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Report reveals a staggering a staggering 95% increase in social care enquiries that required specialist legal advice

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Report reveals a staggering a staggering 95% increase in social care enquiries that required specialist legal advice

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The report paints a desperate picture of the current social care system, with the rise in demand for advice far outstripping the available resources

The release of national charity Access Social Care’s annual State of the Nation report, reveals a significant increase in the number of requests for social care advice across nine major advice and helpline organisations.

The nationwide data in this year's report showed a 95% increase in enquiries that required specialist legal advice, as well as a 123% increase in the number of enquiries about social care needs assessments. This data was gathered between 2021-2023, and compared with figures from 2019-2021. The report is clear: vast numbers of people continue to struggle with accessing care and support.

Access Social Care is a charity providing free legal advice for people with social care needs. Its third annual State of the Nation report is a data collaboration project bringing together its largest group of helpline organisations yet. They have used anonymised data from Royal Mencap Society, Age UK, Carers UK, Independent Age, RNIB, Ealing Advice Service, Citizens Advice Bureau and Scope. The resulting report draws together over 300,000 separate data points and outlines the key challenges facing people who need social care.

The report also revealed:

  • 100% increase in the number of enquiries about accessing social care statutory advocacy
  • 80% increase in the number of enquiries relating to being a carer
  • 48% increase in the number of enquiries from people seeking general information about social care
  • 375% increase in the number of enquiries about mental capacity

Kari Gerstheimer, founder and CEO of Access Social Care, said: “Data collaboration projects like this are vitally important because they allow us to see the real breadth of the issues experienced by advice seekers across a range of organisations. Year after year this report highlights serious problems within the social care system, and our 2023 report is no exception.

It’s incredibly concerning - but not surprising - to see that there has been a 123% increase in the number of enquiries about social care needs assessments and a 95% increase in enquiries that required specialist legal advice. Our country is feeling the effects of years of underfunding of social care, and this is exacerbated by the dire lack of legal support available.

Everyone has a right to hold public bodies to account, but a 77% drop in cases taken on by community care legal aid lawyers since 2010 means that most people have nowhere to turn when they’re not getting the social care they are entitled to. These are issues that affect all of us. We will all need social care at some point, either for ourselves or for a loved one.

At Access Social Care we provide free legal advice to ensure that people are getting the social care they are entitled to. But ultimately, we want a social care system that is properly financed, readily available and fairly distributed. Every day we see the bleak consequences of people going without the social care they so desperately need. We are calling for parties across the political spectrum to act now to fix social care.”

Hannah Hewish, Legal Strategy Manager at Access Social Care and author of the State of the Nation report, said: “We are pleased to have welcomed new national members to this important project this year, increasing the collective insight of our data. These stark figures speak for themselves and highlight the concerning number of challenges facing hundreds of thousands of people trying to access social care in England today.”

It is widely acknowledged that the resources available for social care have not risen at the same rate as demand. Yet data gathered on this critical issue by local authorities and central government remains inadequate. To fully understand the level of both rising demand and existing service provision, social care data must improve. In response to this issue, Access Social Care’s State of the Nation report provides a unique insight into the challenges facing millions of people across the country in need of social care. This trailblazing research will be shared annually and used as evidence to drive policy change and shine a light on a system in desperate need of reform.

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