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Age UK publishes damning report on the care crisis

Age UK yesterday published a damning report, which shows the depth of the crisis in social care and its consequent human cost.

The report  'Care in Crisis: Causes and Solutions' provides the evidence to prove that care and support for older people in England has reached breaking point. 800,000 people who currently need care receive no formal support from either the state or private sector agencies. That figure may well rise to one million people within four years as a result of estimated cuts to already threadbare social care budgets.

The report also shows that by 2014, England will be spending £250 million pounds less on older people’s care than a decade previously (in real terms). Even before the cuts began spending was only £40 million higher than in 2004. Yet at the same time the number of people aged over 85 who most often need care has risen by 630,000.

The future of care and support in England

The publication of the Age UK report comes as The Dilnot Commission finalises its recommendations on the future funding of care and support in England. The independent commission is due to publish its findings at the beginning of July. Age UK is calling for the Government to sign-up to concrete plans for reform and commit an essential £2 to £3 billion for older people’s care, to prevent the system as it stands from collapsing.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director for Age UK said, 'Care and support in England has reached breaking point, putting older people at risk and their families under intolerable strain. The figures we have uncovered beggar belief. How can any civilised society accept the prospect of one million of its older citizens going without any services to meet their care needs?

'When Andrew Dilnot’s proposals for reform are unveiled all parties must accept the unavoidable case for spending billions of pounds more. The alternative is to sacrifice the safety, health and dignity of those who need our help the most.'

Key findings:

Age UK’s report, ‘Care in Crisis; Causes and Solutions’ finds that:

  • Out of 2 million older people in England with care-related needs, 800,000 receive no formal support from public or private sector agencies. With spending cuts underway the figure is likely to pass one million between 2012 and 2014.
  • Since 2004, net spending on older people’s social care has risen by just 0.1 per cent per year in real terms, a total of £43 million while real spending on the NHS has risen by £25 billion.
  • Spending cuts are projected to reduce spending on older peoples’ care by £300 million over 4 years
  • Real spending on older people’s care will be £250 million lower in 2014/15 than in 2004/05 (using optimistic assumptions). Over the same period the number of people over 85 has risen by two-thirds (630,000 people).
  • In 2005/06 half of councils provided support to people assessed as having ‘moderate’ needs, but in 2011/12 the figure has fallen to 15%.
  • The number of people receiving local authority funded care at home has been slashed from 489,000 in 2004/05, to 299,000 in 2009/10. • The number of people
  • Public sector commissioners are underpaying for older peoples’ care homes, with a cumulative shortfall of half a billion pounds. Age UK estimates that the average shortfall per resident is £60 per week, rising to £120 per week in South East England. As a result, many care homes are demanding that older people and their relatives ‘top up’ their care fees with additional private money, a real injustice as families are forced to subsidise the State’s statutory duties.
  • There are huge local discrepancies in the local quantity and quality of care for older people. The highest spending local authority (Tower Hamlets) spends five times as much as much per older resident as the lowest spending (Cornwall)
  • An independent review of age discrimination found that younger service users are allocated an average of £78 a week per person, compared to £53 a week per older person

Brave decisions are needed. Saving the current publicly funded care system will cost two to three billion pounds for older people alone. Even then means-testing would remain in place. Ideally, Age UK would also like a partial contribution to everyone’s care costs as well, so everyone has peace of mind that they will not lose everything on very high care costs.

Our principles for reform

In drafting out a new system for the provision and funding of social care, Age UK has set out ten key principles, without which, reform in social care could well stumble and fail to deliver support to England’s current and future generations of older people.

  1. A guarantee of sufficient quality and quantity of care for low income older people is Age UK’s highest priority
  2. A non means tested entitlement for everyone with care needs, regardless of income
  3. New financial products to meet the remaining costs of care for middle to high income older people such as private insurance
  4. Payments to support the additional costs of disability should continue to be available on a non means-tested basis as a national, legal entitlement
  5. A national legal entitlement to support – in order to end the current post code lottery
  6. Adequate funding for information, advice and assessments
  7. An end to age discrimination in the provision of care and support
  8. A system which does not exploit informal carers, so no one is forced to assume excessive or exclusive caring services
  9. Alignment with the NHS and other local government services such as housing support
  10. A flexible system which gives users control and permits different types of care services to develop

Age UK believes that the Coalition Government has a once in a generation opportunity to change the way that older people receive care and support in England. It calls on the Government to rise to the challenge.

 Download our Care in Crisis report (PDF, 581KB)

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