Rural communities worst hit in adult social care crisis

published on 19 Jul 2019

There is significantly less money to care for older people who live in rural areas across England according to a new report, Care in Places, by The Salvation Army.

Adult Social Care is largely funded by local business rates, council tax and other local charges but areas with lower house prices, fewer businesses cannot raise as much money as more urban areas. 

This has led to deep levels of funding inequality across the entire country and prevents most local authorities from providing adequate social care for older residents. 

The Salvation Army is asking the Government to prioritise properly funding adult social care and funding most of it centrally. This is the only way to ensure that money is distributed more fairly and all older people get the help they need. 

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant, of The Salvation Army, said:

"Rural local authorities have been set up to fail with this flawed formula and it urgently needs revision.

“People are living longer and the population is ageing, the adult social care bill is rising but the local authority funding streams aren’t enough to cover the demand, especially in areas where there are not many businesses or people to tax. 

“The Government must prioritise its spending and properly fund adult social care. For years the rhetoric has been that councils can raise sufficient funds through local taxation to pay for older peoples' care. This Salvation Army analysis proves that local authorities are being asked to achieve the impossible. Put simply; you can’t squeeze local businesses for more tax if your local businesses are struggling. 

“The Salvation Army’s residential care homes see the impact of this funding flaw every day. We are caring for people who don’t have the savings to pay for their own care and stepping in where the council can’t pay for the care.”

The Salvation Army report showed that: 

  • Some areas are able to raise up to five times more revenue than other authorities.  
  • It does not follow that areas with lower populations just don’t need to raise as much money. The analysis shows that their funding streams are so depleted they just cannot raise sufficient funds.
  • The Salvation Army’s care homes top up what it costs the local authority to run a care home.  In several areas what the local authority is able to provide does not even cover the staffing costs.  
  • While rural areas are the worst hit, the funding disparity does affect urban areas too, especially those that have been hit by years of economic decline.
  • The average level of subsidy that The Salvation Army provides across all our care homes is £302.00 per person per week. 

Sue's Story

Sue, 73, has a range of health issues and is being cared for in The Salvation Army’s Furze Hill House in Norfolk. Fred, her husband, 82 pays around £800 a month directly to the local authority to subsidise the cost of his wife’s care. Despite this significant contribution from their savings and Sue’s pension, what the local authority then pays The Salvation Army doesn’t cover the true costs of Sue’s care and so we also pay a top up.

When Fred and Sue married, Fred already had three children, and now they have nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The 82-year-old, who himself has suffered two heart attacks, said: “I am worried about the costs of the top up. It seems very unfair.

“I looked at a number of other homes, and none of them were suitable. As soon as I walked through the door at The Salvation Army’s care home I knew it was the right place. I visit Sue every day.” 

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant of The Salvation Army continued:

“In a few days we will know who our new Prime minster is. His priority must be to set a proper timetable for the long-awaited Green Paper on Adult Social Care as that will be an opportunity to rethink how we fund caring for older people. He must also consider how we spend the money saved by years of reducing national debt.

The UK has worked hard to close the deficit, it’s time to invest the savings made on those most at need.”

Read the full report.