250,000 set to lose home care if councils cut budgets
Published on 01 November 2010 05:00 PM
Age UK today releases new analysis estimating the impact of cuts to care funding, in the wake of warnings from council leaders that local authorities will reduce social care budgets.
Seemingly modest cuts could see a quarter of a million older people lose essential home-based care, if councils are unable to make up the difference through efficiency savings.
The statistics are released as local and national government appear locked in conflict on the spending settlement for home care. The Department of Health says a £2bn package to protect social care spending should be sufficient to prevent services being cut. The Local Government Association has told MPs that £3.6bn of cuts to care spending are likely and councils will be forced to raise their eligibility criteria for care.
The Age UK commissioned projections look at the impact of a 7% real-terms cut to local councils' spending on care for older people (less than 2% per year, if spread over 4 years). The results show:
- A 7% cut is projected to lead to 250,000 fewer older people receiving care in their own home (a 38% decline, from 650,000 expected to receive home care in 2010/11).
- Of these older people, 100,000 are projected to go without any support at all, while the remainder would be expected to buy support privately.
- There would be a 23% rise in unmet need, when measured in hours of personal care required but not provided (by neither paid or informal carers).
- There would be a 25% rise in hours of personal care provided by informal carers.
- Spending on care for over-65s, compared to projected levels of spending for 2010/11, will be cut by £450 million.
- The shortfall from the amount required to maintain existing levels of support would be £650 million, because costs continue to rise due to rising numbers of older people and wage pressures.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK, said,
'These projections suggest that, even though the spending settlement for social care was better than expected, hundreds of thousands of older people could still lose the care and support they rely on.'
'It's down to each local authority to protect the most vulnerable and frail in their community by promising to preserve local care funding and spend every penny of the £2 billion earmarked by the Treasury on social care. Councils need to prioritise the most vulnerable in spending decisions. It's in their power to prevent cuts to care, although that will undoubtedly mean difficult decisions elsewhere.'
'Thousands of frail, vulnerable older people rely on care at home. If the government is serious about looking after society's most vulnerable, it must keep social care funding under review and if necessary, increase the money it has set aside for care, should it become clear it is not enough.'
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Notes to editors
- Modelling for Age UK by the Personal Social Services Research Unit, at the LSE and University of Kent.
- The figures are for England only, as the care systems are different in each nation of the UK.
- The estimates do not take account of possible efficiency savings (so if 2% cuts can be made through efficiencies, the projections would be for a 9% cut).
- The estimates are based on constant prices, so while inflation remains unusually high, they are equivalent of a much smaller cut in cash spending.
- The modelling assumed a one-off, one year cut (between 2010/11 and 2011/12) but the results would be almost identical if the same cut was staged over 2 to 4 years.
Age UK works in partnership with Age Cymru, Age Scotland and Age NI. For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age UK Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age UK Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.