Older people 'paying more for home care'
Published on 16 May 2012 02:00 PM
Research has suggested that older people and those who are disabled are paying more for council help to assist them with their day-to-day living at home.
Statistics obtained by the Labour Party via a freedom of information request show that the past two years have seen an 11% fall in the number of older people having the cost of their home care services fully covered by their local council.
Such services include help with getting washed, eating and putting on clothes in the morning and preparing for bed at night.
In addition to the fall in people receiving free care, Labour said in 2012/13 that people are paying £13.61 on average for an hour of home care, compared with £12.29 in 2009/10.
The freedom of information request was answered by more than three-quarters of councils in England.
Some 121 out of 153 local authorities gave information about their charges for home care, Labour said.
The party highlighted a £680-plus increase since 2009/10 in the average annual cost of an older or disabled person paying for 10 hours of home care per week.
Labour said this has reached £7,077 a year in 2012/13.
Shadow care minister Liz Kendall said: 'These increases in home care charges are a stealth tax on the most vulnerable people in society.
'Fewer older people are getting their care for free, and more older and disabled people are being forced to pay more for vital services that help them get up, washed, dressed and fed.
'These services are a lifeline for older and disabled people and crucial to help them stay living independently in their own homes.'
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK commented: 'The financial crisis in social care is extremely worrying.
'More and more older people are being faced with sudden and massive increases in their weekly care charges due to the current care crisis. Local authority cuts have created huge pressures in the care system which are hurting some of the most vulnerable in our society, compromising their dignity and safety on a daily basis.
'We fear that continued increases in care costs could result in a number of older people not being able to afford their current care packages, leading them to either cut back, or simply do without.
'Now that we have news of a draft bill, the Government must show its commitment to legislate as soon as possible. We hope that our Care in Crisis petition, backed by 130,000 supporters, clearly shows Prime Minister David Cameron just how many people want and urgently need reform to happen. Any more delays will only condemn millions of vulnerable people to uncertainty, worry and financial insecurity, just at a time when they need to be looked after.'
Copyright Press Association 2012