Almost one in three councils no longer confident they can provide basic adult social care

Councils are losing confidence in their ability to provide good social care, according to data shared exclusively with ITV News. Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana reports.

A deep dive into the crisis engulfing adult social care has revealed almost a third of councils are no longer confident they can even meet their basic legal duties towards elderly and vulnerable residents next year.

Research from the Local Government Association (LGA), shared exclusively with ITV News, lays bare the scale of fear felt by those leading this work in local authorities across England.

A survey with dozens of adult social care leads suggests just 8% are very confident about meeting their statutory duties for 2025/26 - down from 27% when looking ahead towards this year, 2024/25.

That means many people in desperate need of care support - are failing to get it - with visits either being cancelled or shortened over many years.

The fears about meeting the legal requirements come despite eight out of 10 councils forecasting having to cut spending on other community services such as parks, libraries and leisure centres to try to protect funding.

“We are at a critical point, for people who draw on care, councils and the sector,” said Cllr David Fothergill - the LGA’s social care lead.

The Conservative lead on Somerset Council said the situation “simply isn’t good enough” and argued adult social care needed urgent attention.

“This must be top of the in-tray for any incoming government.”

89-year-old David Gower - who lives in council-run sheltered accommodation in Luton - says the decline in support has been devastating, plummeting straight down "like the cliffs of Dover".

David Gower only gets to shower once a week due to a lack of carers. Credit: ITV News

He used to get a visit to help him shower three times a week - but now only gets that help once a week. Being taken out to the day room to socialise has reduced from two or three times a week to once a month "if I'm lucky".

He warns that the reduction in support is putting pressure on health services - as it makes it more likely he will decline to a level that requires NHS intervention.

Mr Gower, who praised the work of Age UK, said he wants politicians to work cross-party on this.

"We're not dealing with commodity, we're not dealing with a service, we're dealing with life - and life is not cheap," he says.

Luton Council says it has faced reduced funding but is committed to providing quality care and will meet David to review his needs, adding: "We are very sorry to hear that he is dissatisfied with our service and we will do all we can to remedy this."

Recruiting and retaining care workers is another huge challenge.

'You want to spend more time with people, but you just can't': Julie Sansom told ITV News the lack of resources has made it 'stressful' to give people even a basic level of care

Julie Sansom, a domiciliary care worker in Nottingham, has joined the Homecare Workers' Group for support as pressures mount with zero hour contracts, no sick pay and increasingly vulnerable clients.

"As well as giving medication, using equipment, you're also like a social worker and a psychiatrist at times," says Ms Sansom, who sees on average ten clients per shift.

"They can get very upset and very emotional and it would be nice to be able to spend time with that person - but you just can't because you have, however long it is that slot, and then you've got to go to the next one."

The LGA's work is being done to mark 10 years since the Care Act received royal assent - which was designed to pull together a patchwork of legislation since 1948 into one single Act that all councils have to comply with.

Under the legislation, councils have a legal duty- amongst others, to ensure that their residents have access to a wide range of high-quality and appropriate services that would prevent, reduce or delay the need for care and support.

In the report - ten years on - the LGA made clear councillors believe the legislation is still correct to codify a set of principles - but makes clear that there is a strong feeling that the country is collectively falling short in its support for some of it’s most vulnerable citizens.

As well as the funding squeeze - they point to huge pressures around recruiting and retaining staff - and call for urgent financial help.

Despite being Conservative, Fothergill argued that the promises of that legislation had not been fulfilled.

“The Care Act was a beacon of hope for those needing care and support but this hope has faded.

"A decade on, people are still facing long waiting times for assessments and support and not getting the full care and support they need."

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