Residential care placements for older people outside Swindon are almost twice as expensive as those within the borough.

Swindon Borough Council pays an average of £1,145 per week for placements for people over 65 outside Swindon compared to £627 for those who live in the town. But because there are many more elderly people needing residential care living in Swindon than placed outside, much more is actually spent by the council inside the borough – £166,113 per week compared to £52,676.

The council’s adults’ health care and housing overview committee was told the authority was reducing the numbers of people being placed in residential care.

Corporate director of adult social services Sue Wald said: “We are looking more at supported housing so people can continue living as independently as possible, with the support they need.”

Residential care admissions in the borough have reduced to 409 people per 100,000 compared to the England average of 579 and the south west average of 513 per 100,000 people.

Ms Wald said it wasn’t always possible to bring people back from more expensive places outside the town.

She said: “If someone has been in residential care for several years then that is their home, and they want to stay and we wouldn’t move someone if they wanted to stay.”

The costs of placement for older people are dwarfed by the money spent on people under 65 who need residential care because they have a learning difficulty.

The council spends £245 per week on residential placements for 137 people – a total of £12.8m a year.

Of that number 59 people live in Swindon, with 78 outside the borough – 27 of those are placed in Wiltshire and 51 are further afield

Ms Wald was asked by Labour councillor Bob Wright what ‘further afield’ meant and said most placements outside Wiltshire were in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Coun Wright responded saying he was concerned because a map of placements he’d seen showed, adding: “they’re scattered all over, including some as far as Manchester.”

Ms Wald said of the 78 placements outside the borough, 69 had been there for more than seven years and of those, 64 had been there for more than nine.

The borough council also pays for residential places for another 42 adults under 65 who have physical disabilities or mental health problems but not learning difficulties.

Social care for adults takes up nearly half of the total budget of the authority, last year it spent £68.5 million on care out of £142.5m

With social work and care for children and young people costing £39m the two main statutory responsibilities of the council cost £107.5m, three-quarters of its budget.