Councils fall behind on Care Act reviews

First official figures on council performance under Care Act show just over half of service users received reviews

Local authorities in England have fallen short of an expectation that care plans should be reviewed at least once a year under the Care Act, official figures reveal.

Data published today by NHS Digital shows that 55 per cent of people who had been receiving care for at least 12 months did not receive a review during 2015-16. Where reviews had been carried out, around half led to changes in care plans. A third of carers in contact with councils did not receive a review or assessment.

Under the Care Act guidance there is an expectation that reviews take place “no later than every 12 months”.

In May Community Care revealed social work teams were racking up backlogs of reviews due to staff shortages, with some service users waiting up to 18 months to be seen.

A month later, a report by the House of Commons public accounts committee called on the government to consider whether the annual review requirement was creating ‘unnecessary’ costs for local authorities.

The NHS Digital publication marks the first official data on local authority performance in the first year of the Care Act, with the legislation coming into force in April 2015. Key findings included:

  • Councils received 1.81m requests for support from new clients in 2015-16, a slight decrease on the 1.83m received the previous year.
  • More than half (57%) of requests resulted in no direct support from the council, including 28% that resulted in signposting or universal services.
  • Councils delivered long-term social care support to 873,000 people during the year, down from the 885,000 in 2014-15.
  • There were 387,000 carers in contact with local authorities, of whom 314,000 (81%) received direct support.

Campaigners expressed concern that fewer people were accessing care and support and called on ministers to prioritise social care funding in next month’s Autumn Statement.

Vicky McDermott, chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said: “Today’s publication makes sobering reading, showing that fewer people are receiving long-term support despite demographic pressures meaning that more and more people need it.

“Because of a lack of funds, cuts to care budgets mean that vulnerable older people, disabled people and their carers are being forced out of the system.”

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