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Care in Crisis - The Human Cost

Published on 30 May 2011 12:30 AM

Age UK publishes damning report

Age UK today publishes a damning report, which shows the depth of the crisis in social care and its consequent human cost.

The report  'Care in Crisis: Causes and Solutions'opens link in new window provides the evidence to prove that care and support for older people in England has reached breaking point. 800,000 people who currently need care receive no formal support from either the state or private sector agencies. That figure may well rise to one million people within four years as a result of estimated cuts to already threadbare social care budgets.

The report also shows that by 2014, England will be spending £250 million pounds less on older people's care than a decade previously (in real terms). Even before the cuts began spending was only £40 million higher than in 2004. Yet at the same time the number of people aged over 85 who most often need care has risen by 630,000.

The publication of the Age UK report comes as The Dilnot Commission finalises its recommendations on the future funding of care and support in England. The independent commission is due to publish its findings at the beginning of July. Age UK is calling for the Government to sign-up to concrete plans for reform and commit an essential £2 to £3 billion for older people's care, to prevent the system as it stands from collapsing.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director for Age UK said, 'Care and support in England has reached breaking point, putting older people at risk and their families under intolerable strain. The figures we have uncovered beggar belief. How can any civilised society accept the prospect of one million of its older citizens going without any services to meet their care needs? When Andrew Dilnot's proposals for reform are unveiled all parties must accept the unavoidable case for spending billions of pounds more. The alternative is to sacrifice the safety, health and dignity of those who need our help the most.'

Age UK's report, ‘Care in Crisis: Causes and Solutions' finds that:

  • Out of 2 million older people in England with care-related needs, 800,000 receive no formal support from public or private sector agencies. With spending cuts underway the figure is likely to pass one million between 2012 and 2014.
  • Since 2004, net spending on older people's social care has risen by just 0.1 per cent per year in real terms, a total of £43 million while real spending on the NHS has risen by £25 billion.
  • Spending cuts are projected to reduce spending on older peoples' care by £300 million over 4 years
  • Real spending on older people's care will be £250 million lower in 2014/15 than in 2004/05 (using optimistic assumptions). Over the same period the number of people over 85 has risen by two-thirds (630,000 people).
  • In 2005/06 half of councils provided support to people assessed as having ‘moderate' needs, but in 2011/12 the figure has fallen to 15%.
  • The number of people receiving local authority funded care at home has been slashed from 489,000 in 2004/05, to 299,000 in 2009/10.
  • Public sector commissioners are underpaying for older peoples' care homes, with a cumulative shortfall of half a billion pounds. Age UK estimates that the average shortfall per resident is £60 per week, rising to £120 per week in South East England. As a result, many care homes are demanding that older people and their relatives ‘top up' their care fees with additional private money, a real injustice as families are forced to subsidise the State's statutory duties.
  • There are huge local discrepancies in the local quantity and quality of care for older people. The highest spending local authority (Tower Hamlets) spends five times as much as much per older resident as the lowest spending (Cornwall)
  • An independent review of age discrimination found that younger service users are allocated an average of £78 a week per person, compared to £53 a week per older person

Brave decisions are needed. Saving the current publicly funded care system will cost two to three billion pounds for older people alone. Even then means-testing would remain in place. Ideally, Age UK would also like a partial contribution to everyone's care costs as well, so everyone has peace of mind that they will not lose everything on very high care costs.

In drafting out a new system for the provision and funding of social care, Age UK has set out ten key principles, without which, reform in social care could well stumble and fail to deliver support to England's current and future generations of older people.

  1. A guarantee of sufficient quality and quantity of care for low income older people is Age UK's highest priority
  2. A non means tested entitlement for everyone with care needs, regardless of income
  3. New financial products to meet the remaining costs of care for middle to high income older people such as private insurance
  4. Payments to support the additional costs of disability should continue to be available on a non means-tested basis as a national, legal entitlement
  5. A national legal entitlement to support - in order to end the current post code lottery
  6. Adequate funding for information, advice and assessments
  7. An end to age discrimination in the provision of care and support
  8. A system which does not exploit informal carers, so no one is forced to assume excessive or exclusive caring services
  9. Alignment with the NHS and other local government services such as housing support
  10. A flexible system which gives users control and permits different types of care services to develop

Age UK believes that the Coalition Government has a once in a generation opportunity to change the way that older people receive care and support in England. It calls on the Government to rise to the challenge.

 Download our 'Care in Crisis' reportopens link in new window

 Download related case studiesopens link in new window

Notes to editors Age UK

Age UK's report ‘Care in Crisis: Causes and Solutions' can be found at www.age.uk.org.uk from Monday 00.01 hrs 30 May

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.

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 well being, home and care, work and training and leisure 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 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).

Media contact: Liz Fairweather
Tel: 020 3033 1718
Out-of-office hours: 07071 243 243

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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