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£500m funding gap for older people's social care

Published on 30 January 2012 12:01 AM

£500m funding gap for older people's social care - and widening

Age UK launches Care in Crisis 2012 report highlighting the social care crisis

Age UK's new Care in Crisis 2012 report shows that this year spending on older people's social care in England has fallen half a billion pounds[i] short of even maintaining the inadequate levels of provision in place when the Coalition came to power.

In order to maintain the same levels of service as in 2010 our projections show that Government ought to be spending £7.8 billion this year. In fact councils have only budgeted £7.3 billion in the face of substantial reductions in central government funding.

Age UK's analysis shows that the combined impact of growing demand for services and a £341 million reduction in older people's social care budgets this financial year - equivalent to a 4.5% cut - has created a £500 million shortfall.

This funding gap comes after several years of stagnating and then decreasing social care spending. Since 2004 the number of people aged over 85, and most likely to need care and support, has increased by over 250,000[ii]. The increasing demand, combined with a decrease in real terms spending on social care has created a real funding crisis.

Based on the figures in this report, Age UK projects that, by next year (2012/13) the Government will need to spend £1 billion more than this year just to stop things getting any worse.[iii].

The impact of the chronic under funding is felt every day by vulnerable older people who do not receive the care they need. Age UK's report shows that:

  • According to research from the PSSRU[iv], of the two million older people who need care, almost 800,000[v], nearly 40% - do not receive any formal support
  • Age UK analysis shows that councils have cut older people's social care budgets by £341 million - equivalent to 4.5[vi] % cut in real terms (2011-12)
  • It is very difficult to track where this year's cuts (2011/12) are being made, however evidence shows that these cannot be made solely through efficiencies. A recent survey of Directors of Adult Social Services by ADASS found that 23% of the savings would be made through service reductions.
  • Even before the current social care spending cuts of 4.5%, the total hours of care support purchased by local authorities for older people fell from 2million to 1.85 million[viii]in 2009-10. Since 2009/10, local authorities have faced funding cuts of 28% over four years.
  • In 2005, around half of councils provided support to people assessed as having ‘moderate' care needs but by 2011 the figure had fallen to 18%.
  • Charges for care provision are also increasing. In real terms, charges were £150 per year more in 2010-2011 than in 2009-2010 for each older person using local authority services and £360 more than in 2008-2009[ix]. With councils increasing fees and charges and abolishing caps which limit the weekly amount any individual is expected to pay, these costs are likely to have increased further in this financial year.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK said: 'Our new figures show a funding gap clearly exists, that it currently stands at £500m, and that it is growing bigger all the time. We need urgent Government action now; otherwise the gap will simply get worse.

'Behind these figures are real older people struggling to cope without the support they need, compromising their dignity and safety on a daily basis. Social care is not a nice to have extra - it is the support that helps older people get out of bed, feed themselves, have a wash, live a life that is more than just an existence.

'We urge all parties to engage openly and constructively in the cross party talks on care to reach a settlement on this issue that guarantees both reform of the legal structure and most importantly the funding to make it work. The Government must not shirk its responsibility to lead the essential reform of the social care system.'

Age UK is urging all those who care about the future for older people's care to back its Care in Crisis campaign, demanding urgent reform of the social care system. The charity has launched a Care in Crisis petition calling on the Government to reform the care system for older and disabled people so that everyone gets the care they need to live with respect and dignity. It aims to collect 100,000 signatures and will deliver them to the Government ahead of the planned White Paper on the future of long term care.

To sign up to Age UK's Care in Crisis petition calling for urgent care reform, please either visit, go to your local Age UK office or Age UK charity shop.

Older people and their families and carers who require information and advice on care services can consult Age UK's range of information guides or call Age UK's free advice line on 0800 169 65 65 or visit  

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

These staggering calculations consider the additional funding announced by the Coalition government and highlight the spiralling nature of the social care crisis.

Age UK

For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

About Age UK

Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.

We provide free information, advice and support to over five million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and wellbeing, home and care, work and learning and travel and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).

[i] NHS information Centre, DCLG and PSSRU Modelling for Age UK, (2011 prices)
[ii] ONS Population estimates, mid-2004 - mid 2010. Accessed via ONS website. England only figures
[iii] In order to maintain service provision at 2010/11 levels, so that the current social care system does not get any worse. This is the baseline for Age UK's model. [iv] Forder and Fernandez (2011) The cost of Social Care for older people. PSSRU analysis for Age UK, 2011. Figures in 2011 prices using RPI
[v] Forder and Fernandez (2011), The cost of social care for older people: the importance of unit cost growth, Age UK.
[vi] Current spend on older people's social care plus a proportion of the £648m direct transfer from the NHS.
[viii] link in new window

[ix] DCLG and NHSIC (2011 prices), NHS information centre ‘social care activity, sales fees and charges income' from successive years, Communities and Local Government Revenue Account out turns.

Media contact: Anne-Marie Doohan
Telephone: 020 303 31444
Out of hours: 07071243243

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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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