Research and Analytics


CIPFA Personal Social Services Actuals Statistics

February 1997
This statistical booklet relating to Personal Social Services contains details of actual expenditure and income for 1995-96 together with non-financial data which in total provide a substantive analysis of the different activities for local authorities in England and Wales. This is the third publication to reflect CIPFA's revised standard classification for social services which applies to published financial statements for financial periods beginning on or after 1st April 1993 for England and Wales.

The revised standard form identifies seven divisions of service for England and Wales:
  • Service strategy and regulation (SSR)
  • Children and families
  • Elderly people
  • People with a physical or sensory disability
  • People with learning disabilities
  • People with mental health needs
  • Social services management and support services (SSMSS)

All clients are included in only one client group. Where difficulty arises in identifying the appropriate client group, the primary cause for social services involvement is used for the classification of adult clients. For children with disabilities it is likely that they would be included in the children and families division.

The Children Act 1989

The Children Act 1989 requires local authorities to take appropriate steps to identify 'children in need'. This is defined as those children who require local authority services in order to achieve and maintain a reasonable standard of health and development.

The main requirements include:
  • authorities must maintain a register of carers for children under the age of 8 years.
  • authorities are to charge a fee for this registration and for annual inspection.
  • authorities must provide a range of services for young people no longer being looked after, including advice and information, a 'befriending' service and assistance in cash or in kind.

The National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990

The National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990, has significantly changed the role of social workers in community care and, in particular, has increased the emphasis on flexible packages of care for people within the community, packages which are bought by social workers on behalf of their clients from a range of providers. Therefore, there is a need for a more rigorous treatment of overhead costs to ensure that the full costs of care are identified.

Capital Accounting

With effect from 1st April 1994, local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland were expected to adopt a new system of capital accounting designed to promote accountability for the use of scarce resources and to improve asset management. Authorities are required to compile an asset register of all their capital assets and calculate a capital charge for the use of those assets.

Some authorities have not yet adopted the new system and others are unable to allocate the asset rental recharges between the various client groups. For these reasons, this publication shows net expenditure before and after accounting for asset rental recharges (or capital financing costs) for each division of service.

Service Strategy and Regulation

SSR comprises only costs which would remain if there were no directly managed services. It relates only to statutory duties specific to social services and excludes the statutory duties of the authority to provide services to specific client groups. SSR comprises the staff, accommodation and services needed to support the following activities performed at the minimum level that would be necessary if an authority had no direct management responsibilities for social services:
  • Meetings of the statutory social services committee
  • Director of social services
  • Preparation of the social services budget
  • Registration and Inspection Unit
  • Complaints procedure
  • Strategic information, research and planning
  • Liaison with outside bodies for strategic planning purposes

People With Mental Health Needs

Staff, clients and costs relating to alcohol, drugs or solvent abuse are also included here on the basis that there is generally an underlying mental problem which causes the behaviour. Similarly, AIDS / HIV initiatives are likely to involve a high proportion of counselling and so would most logically fall under mental health needs unless the prime reason for social services involvement is unrelated to the illness.

Social Services Management and Support Services

Support services are those which support the direct provision of services to the public (whether by the authority or by other providers). They are supplied to assist direct providers of services to the public in carrying out their main functions and assist care purchasers in obtaining care from providers, both from within and outside a local authority. Support services may be supplied in a variety of ways - for example by staff of the social services department itself, by other departments of the local authority or by outside bodies.

Ultimately all costs accounted for under SSMSS should be fully apportioned to other divisions of service, either by means of an apportionment or a charge.

Purchaser / Provider Split

Each client division within the statistics show three types of cost:
  • The cost of the staff responsible for 'purchasing' services for the particular client group, including assessment and ongoing case management.
  • The cost of residential services provided for clients (local authorities' own residential homes, places in hostels run by voluntary or other bodies and respite care).
  • The cost of other types of service provision (day care, home care services, occupational therapists, meals, home adaptations and mobility equipment).


A detailed examination of the statistics will show that the level of involvement of individual authorities in particular activities varies widely, thereby reflecting local need, policies and problems that may have been encountered.

Readers are requested to exercise caution when making comparisons between authorities as certain items are treated in a variety of ways. For example, the level of support services allocated directly, rather than by recharges, varies considerably. Similarly, many authorities make payments to the private and voluntary sector net of income and therefore the unit costs will be understated.

Summary Tables

Analysis of Expenditure and Income
Total Net Expenditure
Number of Own Clients
Number of Clients per 1,000,000 Population
Number of Client Nights in Respite Care (Own and Other Provision)
Unit Costs
Percentage of Total Gross Expenditure spent on Other Provision compared with 1994-95

February 1997

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