'Care system in danger of collapse'
Published on 24 October 2012 11:30 AM
Failures to properly plan how social care is funded could leave older people in limbo in the future and the system in danger of collapsing, experts fear.
Carried out by the Local Government Association (LGA), a survey of experts found that a big majority (83%) thought Government plans would not provide enough funding for Britain's rapidly ageing population, leaving older people in danger of losing both their assets and dignity.
But the Government says the care of older people is a priority, highlighted by its plans to invest £7.2 billion.
Social care experts, more than 80 council leaders and directors of various charities and adult services were among those taking part in the LGA survey.
The LGA forecasts our ageing population will add an extra £2 billion to the country's annual care bill by 2015. But almost nine in 10 (88%) of the experts surveyed said they did not believe that increase and the £1.89 billion reduction councils are already facing to their social care budgets would be addressed by Government proposals.
Meanwhile, almost two-thirds (62%) of the experts said the proposed reforms did not commit to immediate action or recognise how urgent the problem was.
Councillor David Rogers, who chairs the LGA's community wellbeing board, said the current care system was in danger of collapsing and urgent action was needed to stop the growing funding crisis threatening the provision of basic daily services that older people rely on.
Older people and their relatives face financial uncertainty
Council leaders say older people and their relatives face the prospect of financial uncertainty because of the continued failure to tackle how care will be funded in the future.
Councillor Rogers said: 'We are deeply concerned that failure to properly fund adult social care is leaving people in limbo and threatening the dignity and independence of the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on council support and just want to live comfortably and without a lifetime of worry.'
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'The care of older people is a priority for this Government, which is why we are investing £7.2 billion over four years to protect access to care and support.'
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, said: 'It is extremely concerning that so many of our local council leaders feel the Government's proposals for social care reform fall short. Social care is not a nice to have luxury, it provides fundamental support to enable people to wash, eat and maintain relationships.
'The current crisis is not only jeopardising older people's dignity, but also their health and well-being.
'There are currently nearly 800,000 older people who need care but who receive no formal support. How bad do things have to get before the Government acts? Patching things up with sporadic handouts is not enough.
'Older people need the certainty that can only come through radical reform of the social care system together with measures that address the current underfunding issues that are severely compromising care and support of older people.
'The Government must not shirk from its responsibility, but must address the current funding shortfall, and create a sustainable system for the future funding of social care.'
Copyright Press Association 2012