Last reviewed 14 June 2022

According to estimates by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the number of adults waiting for social care in England has risen sharply to more than 500,000 compared with similar research last year putting the figure at about 294,000.

ADASS said the new evidence from its survey revealed that, despite staff working relentlessly over the last two years, “levels of unmet, undermet or wrongly met needs are increasing, and the situation is getting worse”.

The survey showed that the growing numbers of people needing care and the increasing complexity of their needs are far outstripping the capacity to meet them. ADASS blamed a growing shortage of care workers, made worse by low pay rates and the cost-of-living crisis.

ADASS President Sarah McClinton said: “We're seeing a devastating impact on people's lives.”

The survey was sent to directors of adult social services in all of England's 152 councils; 94 responded. Researchers extrapolated the numbers whose needs were not being met in the 94 councils and concluded that 506,131 people across England were waiting for:

  • a social care assessment

  • care to begin

  • a review of their care.

The survey suggested that, although 16% more hours of home care were being delivered across England since spring 2021, this was dwarfed by an almost sevenfold increase in hours that cannot be delivered due to a shortage of care workers.

It concluded that, in the first three months of this year, 170,000 hours of home care each week could not be delivered.

Between 23 February and 11 March, 61% of councils in England said they were having to prioritise assessments and were only able to respond to people where abuse or neglect is highlighted, for hospital discharge or after a temporary period of residential care to support recovery and reablement.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said reforming adult social care was a priority for the Government, which was investing £5.4 billion over three years from April, funded by the Health and Social Care Levy. An official said: “This includes £3.6 billion to reform the social care charging system and enable all local authorities to move towards paying providers a fair cost of care and a further £1.7 billion to begin major improvements across adult social care in England.”