According to Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association: “We are now beyond the crisis point. We really are at the edge of the cliff now.”
Here in Surrey, that social care crisis appears to be particularly acute.
Surrey County Council is believed to be considering a whopping 16% council tax rise, as it battles to deal with a £45m budget shortfall.
Such a big council tax rise, which would add £200 a year for a Band D property, would need to be supported by a public referendum, which we expect to be announced shortly.
If you live here in Surrey and need care in later life, then you face a real challenge obtaining local authority funding.
Research carried out recently by the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability found Surrey County Council rejected 78% of the requests it received to fund care in 2015/16.
Only 7,995 of the 35,565 applications for local authority funding towards adult social care costs were approved by Surrey County Council in the last financial year.
These figures were revealed as part of the charity’s The State of Social Care in Great Britain in 2016 campaign.
According to the report, the number of adults receiving care funded by Surrey County Council actually fell by 5% between 2009 and 2014, from 31,095 to 29,650.
Defending the figures, Surrey County Council were reported as saying they did not reflect the wider care it had provided in the last five years for all ages.
An article in the Surrey Advertiser in November reported that Surrey County Council has spent an extra 17% on funding care packages for older people between 2009 and 2014.
This has placed a huge strain on the budget for adult social care and, combined with the rising cost of care packages, means Surrey County Council is spending an extra £24m a year to continue to support those who need care.
It will be very interesting to see the public reaction to any referendum on such a big council tax hike.
What we suspect will be required to address the adult social care funding shortfall faced by many local authorities is more financial support from central government.
In the absence of this funding, families in Surrey should be prepared for a difficult experience when applying for local authority care funding and should seek professional independent financial advice from a specialist to understand all of the options.