Research and Analytics


CIPFA Personal Social Services Estimates Statistics

June 2004

This statistical booklet relating to Personal Social Services contains details of estimated expenditure and income for 2003-04 together with non-financial data which in total provide a substantive analysis of the different activities for local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland. This is the third publication to reflect the review of CIPFA's Service Expenditure Analysis (SEA) for Social Services which forms part of the Best Value Accounting Code of Practice. The SEA applies to published statements for financial periods beginning on or after 1st April 2001 for England and Wales and 1st April 2002 for Scotland.

The falling response rates to the PSS/Social Work estimates surveys are of increasing concern. In an effort to encourage a higher response rate and to lessen the burden of data collection demands on local authorities, future estimates returns will be streamlined. This should also ensure more timely release of the data. Data collection for 2004-05 budget estimates will be limited to financial data only (i.e. no activity data) and there will be no requirement to split costs between 'Own Provision' expenditure and 'Provision by Others', and income between 'Client contributions' and 'Other'. SEA analysis rows will be for the most part maintained in their present form.

Given the low response rate and the lack of alternative data sources to 'gross' activity data, class totals for unit costs are not shown in the summary tables or main statistical tables. Please see the note on 'grossing' methodology overleaf for further details.


The data were collected by way of a CIPFA questionnaire which is reproduced at the back of this publication. The rows on the questionnaire match the recommended sub-divisions in the SEA to be used for the 2003-04 accounts.

All clients are included in only one client group. The term Children should cover all children (except asylum seekers) regardless of the type of need. The term Older People refers to all people aged 65 or over (except asylum seekers) even if the primary need for support is not related to age. In particular older mentally ill, learning disabled, physically disabled etc. are all included as older people.

Where difficulty arises in identifying the appropriate client group, the primary cause for social services involvement is used for the classification of adult clients. The adults HIV/Aids and the substance abuse headings are only used where the primary need for support stems from the HIV/Aids condition or the abuse/addiction. For example, if an adult who has needs that mainly stem from mental illness also suffers from HIV/Aids, all the costs of support are included as Adults Aged Under 65 with Mental Health Needs.

Expenditure specifically to support carers is recorded under the appropriate client group for the person they care for. Normally the support will fit into the existing framework i.e. often it will be home care, respite care or day care. Where an appropriate sub-division of service does not exist the support is recorded as 'Other Services'.

This means that, in so far as it is practical, costs are recorded on a client basis rather than establishment basis. In practice this means, for example, that if a day centre that is used mainly by Older People is also attended by several Adults with Physical or Sensory Impairment, the costs of the day centre are apportioned between the two client groups.

Other points to note:
  • Expenditure should include payments funded by grants.
  • Income and expenditure should each be shown gross.
  • Capital Charges should be included as part of gross expenditure.
  • Social services management and support service costs should be apportioned to the division of service that benefits from them.

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.

Service Strategy

This category has been very narrowly defined to ensure that amounts recorded by each authority are comparable. It comprises of three main elements.
  1. Strategic Management
    The Director of Social Services and her/his personal administrative support. The director and her/his staff are expected to contribute the majority of the strategic input to strategic liaison with outside bodies e.g. the NHS and to associated plans such as:
    • Community Care Plan.
    • Children’s Service Plan.
    • Health Improvement Programmes.
    • Health Action Zones.
    • Joint Investment Plan.
    It is recognised that other staff will also contribute to strategic activity, but, making consistent and accurate estimates of their input is difficult, is time consuming and the likely impact on comparisons is minor. Therefore, the costs of other staff time involved in strategic planning are not included in this definition. Similarly, some operational input by the Director and her/his personal staff is inevitable, but, it is ignored as its impact is unlikely to be material and accurate quantification is difficult.
  2. Registration and Inspection
    Includes all of the costs of the arms length inspection and registration unit (required by 1990 NHS and Community Care Act) or payments for this service. Also includes the costs of inspecting independent schools (Children Act 1989) and day facilities for under 8’s.
  3. Complaints Procedures
    Includes the costs of the Complaints Procedure required by the Children Act 1989 and the NHS and Community Care Act 1990.


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 varies considerably. Similarly, many authorities make payments to the private and voluntary sector net of income.

'Grossed' Data

To account for missing data, 'grossed' data have been used in the class totals and summary tables. For nonresponding authorities in England and Wales financial data at Net Total Cost level are taken from the General Fund Revenue Accounts (RA) returns 2003-04 (as published in the CIPFA Finance and General Statistics 2003-04) across the BVACOP SEA recommended client groups.

Net Total Cost data have then been apportioned back across the specific rows based on the patterns observed in responding authorities in each class, (i.e. Metropolitan Districts). Using the ratio of Gross Total Cost to Net Total Cost from responding authorities, Gross Total Cost and Income have been derived from the RA data. Finally apportionment of expenditure between own provision and provision by others and income from client contributions and other income has similarly been achieved by applying the pattern observed in responding authorities.

Owing to the variability in activity data observed between years and the relatively small sample of 'real' data collected this year these fields have not been 'grossed'. Resulting unit costs by class of authority are consequently not shown. For a view of unit costs the published data from individual responding authorities in the main statistical tables should be observed bearing in mind the caveats alluded to above.

For Scotland the same methodology has been applied utilising data collected in CIPFA's Rating Review publication for 2003-04 Estimates (based on POBE - Provisional Outturn and Base Estimates). Given the particularly low response rate in Scotland, great care should be taken in using 'grossed' data totals.

Summary Tables

Analysis of Expenditure and Income - England
Analysis of Expenditure and Income - Wales
Analysis of Expenditure and Income - Scotland
Estimated Net Total Cost (including Capital Charges)
Estimated Population at Mid 2003
Net Cost per Head of Population (including Capital Charges)

June 2004

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