Survey reveals steep decline in council capacity to deliver social care
25 October, 2018

  • The confidence of council leaderships in their capacity to deliver adult social care has declined by over 20 per cent in just eight months.
  • Survey also found that 97 per cent are planning to raise council tax from March 2019 as a result of funding cuts and increasing demand.
  • Almost half of councils say they expect a no-deal Brexit would ramp up their costs for providing care for the elderly and those with disabilities.
  • The organisation behind the survey, New Local Government Network, urged the Chancellor to share the £20.5bn ‘birthday present’ with councils to address the crisis in social care provision.


A quarterly survey of council Leaders and Chief executives has revealed a steep decline in the capacity of councils to deliver social care. The New Local Government Network Leadership Index found that since February, council leaders’ confidence that they have sufficient powers and resources to deliver social care for adults has fallen by 24%. This figure is taken from the 150 councils responsible for delivering social care.

The news will add to the pressure on the Chancellor to address the financial crisis affecting local government as he prepares his Budget for 29th October. NLGN are calling for the £20.5bn of additional NHS funding to be shared with local government, which would reduce clinical demand on the NHS and prevent unnecessary hospital stays.

Adam Lent, New Local Government Network director said:

“These figures add to the growing evidence that care provided to the most vulnerable people in the country is now in a state of crisis. Leaving aside the appalling human cost, it is daft to spend billions of extra pounds on the NHS while social care goes to the wall.

“The less care the elderly, disabled and at-risk children get, the more they will turn up at A&E putting pressure on the health service. It is vital the Chancellor addresses this irrational policy in his Budget by accepting that the £20.5bn ‘birthday present’ for the NHS is shared with councils.”

A number of councils have warned that they are under severe financial stress while Northamptonshire County Council effectively declared bankruptcy in February. 57 per cent of council leaderships identified cuts to central government funding as the main cause of their financial problems, while 31 per cent also identified the rise in demand for social care – both adults and children – as the cause.

In order to tackle these financial pressures, 97 per cent of respondents are planning to increase council tax from March 2019, passing on cuts from central government directly to people.

The figures reveal the steep mountain the Government has to climb if it is to meet the Prime Minister’s pledge to end austerity next year and return public services to something resembling normal functioning after nine years of increasing austerity, which has seen central government funding reduced by up to 50 per cent since 2010 – particularly as the survey also found that 46 per cent said they expected adult social care costs to rise more than any other local public service if a deal is not struck with the EU prior to Brexit.

In the latest survey conducted in September, council leaderships assessed their capacity to deliver children’s services at just 35 – full confidence in capacity to deliver would secure a score of 100. Adult social care also secured 35. When the survey was conducted in February, children’s social care was scored at 44 and adult social care at 42.

Notes to editors

  1. For further information, please contact Claire Porter, Head of External Affairs at NLGN, on 07743065875 or cporter@nlgn.org.uk
  2. The survey was carried out from 24 September to 8 October 2018. 198 council leaders, chief executives and mayors completed the survey, which translates to a 25 per cent response rate. Survey responses were received from all UK regions apart from Northern Ireland.