Recent findings from the British Social Attitudes survey, conducted by the National Centre for Social Research have revealed that public satisfaction with adult social care services has plummeted to just 13%, marking the lowest level ever recorded.

This alarming statistic, published by the Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund, underscores a crisis of confidence in the sector and reflects the intense pressures and challenges faced by local councils and care providers.

The King’s Fund report further compounds the issue by highlighting an unprecedented increase in demand for adult social care. Despite the addition of approximately 70,000 overseas workers, the social care workforce vacancy rate has reached its second-highest level ever, underscoring the sector’s struggle to meet escalating needs.

Addressing the pressures of local councils

Local councils play a critical role in addressing this escalating crisis. They face a dual challenge: meeting the increasing demand for care while managing limited resources and overseeing a robust social care market. This surge in demand not only jeopardises the quality of life for individuals with heightened care needs but also necessitates prudent resource allocation. It is crucial that the local provider market remains robust to meet community needs, and that brokerage teams swiftly allocate care packages, ensuring that people get the right package of care for their individual needs, whether that’s home-based or residential care.

Moreover, this increase in demand must be managed without leading to uncontrolled spending. Rapid financial assessments and the establishment of agreed charging contributions are essential for fiscal sustainability. There is also a significant opportunity to harness direct payments, offering individuals greater control over their care journey. This strategy, together with the effective activation of the micro-provider market, has the potential to significantly improve care delivery models and enhance budgetary oversight.

Proactive strategies for 2025 reforms

The Kings Fund report underscores the importance of a preventative model in social care, highlighting early, proactive interventions as key to maintaining individuals’ wellness and independence. This strategy significantly reduces the demand for intensive care, offering not only an enhanced quality of life for individuals but also presents a cost-effective solution for local councils operating under financial constraints.

With the October 2025 reforms on the horizon, introducing a personal care cap and revising means-testing thresholds, local councils face an unprecedented opportunity to rethink and realign their care delivery strategies. These reforms aim to cap individual care costs and adjust financial thresholds to broaden support eligibility, fundamentally changing the landscape of care provision. For local authorities, this means a crucial shift towards preparing for an expected rise in demand, with strategic adjustments and enhancements in service delivery becoming paramount.

Innovative solutions and collaborative efforts

To navigate these impending changes, local councils must look beyond traditional methods and embrace innovative solutions that offer flexibility and efficiency. Adopting cutting-edge technologies and methods is essential for effectively managing resources, facilitating a seamless adaptation to the new funding model, and keeping the care system robust and responsive to the needs of citizens.

Furthermore, the emphasis on a preventative approach and the upcoming reforms calls for a reimagined framework of care that prioritises early intervention and community-based support. This model requires a collaborative effort across multiple sectors, leveraging the collective expertise of technology providers, care professionals, and policy makers to create a unified system. By embracing such partnerships, local councils can open new avenues for delivering care that not only meets the immediate needs of citizens, but also anticipates and mitigates future challenges. By remaining ahead of the curve and adopting technological advancements, such as AI, local councils can tackle backlogs, streamline operations and actively shape the future welfare of their citizens.

Making the change

The conjunction of record low public satisfaction, a significant vacancy rate in the social care workforce, and the stark increase in demand for services signals a pivotal moment for adult social care in the UK. Local councils, armed with the right strategies and support, can address these challenges head-on, ensuring the delivery of high-quality, efficient, and human-centred care. The time for action is now - to not only navigate the forthcoming changes but also to redefine the future of adult social care, ensuring it can meet the needs of those it serves with resilience, equity, and innovation.

Discover how our proven strategies can empower your council to navigate and shape the future of adult social care:

Written by

Nick Parker

Nick Parker

Market Development Director – Social Care, Capita

Nick brings over 25 years experience of digital and technology solutions in local authority adult social care and with organisations from across the health and care eco-system. He has worked at local, regional and national levels for a variety of organisations and joined Capita Public Services in 2022, working with local authorities and their partners on innovative solutions to the cross system challenges faced by the sector.

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