Protect care from budget cuts
Published on 17 June 2010 12:00 AM
Age UK's calls for the Emergency Budget
With the Chancellor set to announce the scale of public spending reductions in next week's Budget, Age UK is warning that cuts to social care budgets will put thousands of older people's lives at risk.
Research for Age UK reveals that if expected Government-wide spending cuts are applied to older people's social care services, a £1.75 billion funding black hole will open up within the next two years.
If cuts on this scale are passed on to local authorities with social services responsibilities, councils would only be able to afford home care services for around 500,000 frail older people, compared to the one million who are projected to be eligible in 2012 under the criteria used by local authorities today.
The number of older people in need of care services receiving no support at all would rise to almost one million. These cuts would mainly hit older people who live independently in their own homes, since councils would have no option but to continue supporting the most disabled people who live in care homes.
The research, commissioned by Age UK and undertaken by the London School of Economics and the University of Kent, modelled the impact of 13% cuts to older people's care over the next two years. This is the cross-government spending reduction that was projected by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in the spring, which the new Government's deficit reduction plans are now expected to exceed.
The charity is calling on the Chancellor to commit in advance of the Autumn Spending Review to guarantee spending for older people's care. Without this protection, including requirements that ensure local authorities do not cut local care budgets, Age UK is warning that many older people's lives could be put at risk.
Age UK is also calling on the Chancellor to ensure pensioners do not pay the price for closing the deficit by:
- Ensuring that any tax increases do not disproportionately affect people in later life with low and middle incomes. The overall impact of tax changes should be progressive and in particular the distributional effects of any increase in VAT should be offset by other fiscal measures.
- Guaranteeing the future of Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance for people aged over 65, and the continued indexation of Pension Credit to earnings.
- Avoiding any delay to the implementation of auto enrolment into workplace pensions from 2012, as well as ensuring financial products are available to meet the needs of older people, including cheques, insurance without age limits and annuities for people with small pensions.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director for Age UK, said:
"Next Tuesday, all eyes will be on how the Government plans to tackle the deficit; however the Government must make sure the axe does not fall on the services older people rely on most.
"The Chancellor has said he will limit the impact of cuts on the most vulnerable in our society. He should put his money where his mouth is and promise right now that care in old age will be protected in his spending review.
"Our care system is in utter crisis - it's already starved of funding, service provision is patchy and when people do receive help, it is often of poor quality. If ministers introduce cuts which deny support to half the older people assessed as needing care at home, quite simply, lives will be put at risk."
As part of the charity's nationwide ‘Big Q' campaign, older people across the country will be lobbying their local MPs with the message ‘cut cake, not care' ahead of next week's Emergency Budget. With the support of thousands of older people and their families across the country, the charity is aiming for MP's postbags to be overflowing with campaigning postcards detailing the creative message, calling for the new Government to protect vital care services from cuts.
For more information about Age UK's ‘Big Q' campaign which aims to improve the quality of care for thousands of people in later life, please contact Anne-Marie Doohan on 020 8765 7511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Notes to editors
- Age UK commissioned the London School of Economics and the University of Kent to carry out the following research paper: ‘The impact of a tightening fiscal situation on social care for older people', by Professor Julien Forder and Dr Jose-Luis Fernandez, published March 2010.
- The Institute for Fiscal Studies' projections for cuts to unprotected departmental spending would equate to a reduction of £900 million over two years if applied to older people's social care; over the same time period the London School of Economics projects an extra £800 million is needed by 2012/13 over today's spending (because the rising numbers of frail older people means that spending would need to grow year-on-year to maintain existing eligibility for services).
- For more information about the research mentioned in the press release, please contact Anne-Marie Doohan on 020 8765 7511 or email email@example.com.
- Age UK launched its nationwide ‘Big Q' care campaign in April 2008. The campaign aims to highlight the current failures of the social care system and continues to influence policy makers and Government to improve the care and support system for older people.
- To get a free copy of Age UK's care report "Quality not Inequality", please visit www.ageuk.org.uk/carecampaign or call Age UK's free phone information line on 0800 169 6565.
- Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged. The Age UK family includes Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI.
Media contact: Anne-Marie Doohan
Telephone: 020 8765 7511