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Nearly 20,000 fewer older people receive home care

Published on 08 February 2013 12:01 AM

New Government figures about the reduction in local authority funded home care services over the last year provide new details about the depth of the social care crisis for England's frailest pensioners.


Department of Health data show that 2 in 3 English councils reduced funding for older people's home care, resulting in a serious drop of nearly 20,000 fewer older people receiving local authority funded domiciliary care.

This has coincided with a fall in the number of older people receiving Direct Payments for social care, from 49,315 in 2010-11 to 42,049 in 2011-12.

This funding drop will hit vital support services such as:

  • help to get dressed
  • prepare food
  • or wash themselves

These all allow older people to carry on living in their own homes while receiving the support they need to live safely and with dignity.

Social care funding down - older population up

Age UK analysis of the Government's data on personal social services expenditure and unit costs shows:

  • in 102 out of 152 English local authorities there was a fall in spending on older people's home care.
  • This amounted to a gross total local government reduction in spending on older people's home care of £148 million between March 2011 and March 2012.
  • There was a reduction in the number of older people who received local authority funded home care support - from  244,080  in 2010/ 11 to 224,745 in 2011/12 a drop of nearly 20,000 older people.

While social care services have reduced, over the last three years in England the 85+ population - the demographic group most likely to need social care support - has risen by 57,600 people from 1,134,600 to 1,193,300. 

However, over the last decade, social care funding firstly stagnated and then fell, despite increasing demand from an ageing population.

'The Government must address the care funding crisis urgently'

Age UK Charity Director General Michelle Mitchell said, 'These figures provide yet more evidence of the crisis in social care. Without decent state-funded home care it's likely that increasing numbers of spouses, themselves in poor health, are shouldering physically and emotionally strenuous care without essential support.

'For those without family and friends to help a lack of state support can mean surviving without the basics in life such as help with washing, dressing, eating and living in a way that retains dignity. 

'We fear such reductions in home care support may well result in 20,000 tragedies waiting to happen - unnecessary accidents and illnesses leading to avoidable hospital admissions and family carers cracking under the strain.'

Waiting for the Government... 

And, looking towards more detailed information from the Coalition on paying for social care, Michelle Mitchell added: 'Age UK is looking forward to a Government announcement on Dilnot in the next few weeks as the first step on a long road to social care funding reform.

'We also urge the Government to recognise that too many older people are failing to receive the help that they need. The Government must address the social care funding crisis as a matter of urgency.'

Vital care services are failing older people

These figures are an insight into the bleak reality of the social care crisis where funding has completely failed to keep pace with demand. 

Many local authorities are working hard to try and protect social care provision but are finding it almost impossible because of chronic underfunding and rising demand.

In 2011/12 funding from central government to local authorities was cut by 12.1% and these same local authorities are increasingly restricting access to state-funded home care. 

In 2005 1 in 2 councils provided support to low-income pensioners assessed as having moderate needs. By 2011, 4 in 5 councils restricted provision of care to those older people with substantial or critical needs. 

However, the vast majority of those older people assessed as having low or moderate needs, are now excluded from council funded home care, despite being disabled or frail.

Cut in day care services

At the same time as cuts to home care set in, the same data from the Department of Health show that older people are facing a drastic reduction in day care services too.

Day care services are no substitute for social care in the home, but they are another form of support that older people often value and that can help.

Since 2009, the number of older people in England whose day care services are provided for, or arranged by their local authority has fallen by 23% from 88,498 in 2009/10 to 68,160 in 2011/12.

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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