Cuts to spending are putting even more pressure on the social care system.
Despite a chronically underfunded care system to start with, big spending cuts to local councils have in turn meant reduced spending on social care services.
This has led to harsher restrictions on the criteria of who is eligible to receive care, meaning that even fewer older people get the support they need to live independently and well.
Spending on social care has dropped by £1.2 billion
The figures are astounding. Age UK’s latest report, Care in Crisis 2014 has found that since 2010, spending on social care has dropped by £1.2 billion or 15.4%.
Even with the transfer of money from the NHS budget, there remains a shortfall of £769 million.
Download the report: Care in Crisis 2014 (PDF, 635KB)
Local authorities have become more restrictive in their criteria for deciding who is eligible for support. 87% of local authorities have now limited their threshold to ‘substantial’ needs, with a further 2% only offering support for ‘critical’ needs.
This leaves hundreds of thousands of older people with so-called ‘moderate’ needs, such as needing help getting dressed, washing or going to the toilet, without any help from their council.
Instead, they may be expected to face potentially catastrophic costs to pay for support or rely on friends and family, even if that means carers giving up work to care for loved ones.
It's the human stories behind the numbers that are truly tragic
At the same time, our population ages and the number of people who may need care is ever increasing. The number of people over 85 years old, the group most likely to need support, has grown by 30% since 2005. However, the number of older people actually receiving care has dropped by 27.2%.
The statistics are shocking but it is the human story behind the numbers that is truly tragic.
It’s examples like Norman that really show how things have to change. Norman cares for his wife Ros, who has multiple sclerosis:
'I was trying to work and provide care for Ros but three years in I couldn’t cope and my health fell apart. I was depressed and at the point of walking away.
'Trying to get the help I needed became a full time occupation alongside my actual job. To say that it’s a struggle is an understatement.'
Sadly, Norman’s story is not uncommon, as shown in our campaign report, Care in Crisis: What's next for social care?
Download the report: What's next for social care? (PDF, 819KB)
The Care Bill has the potential to make a tremendous difference
The Care Bill is a big achievement and has the potential to make a tremendous difference for older people who need care and support. But this is only one piece of the puzzle.
Unless the Government commits to properly fund the social care system, the measures in the Care Bill designed to help people will fall short and will be a missed chance to solve the care crisis once and for all.
The Government has made some big steps in the right direction. Now it needs to finish the journey and help people like Norman.
Read Age UK’s joint briefing with the Care and Support Alliance on the Care Bill and care funding.
Download the joint briefing (PDF, 202KB)