Age UK London and Greater London Forum for Older People (GLF) are urging local authorities in London to avoid further cuts to older people’s social care services in 2012-13, arguing that they could harm vulnerable older people.
Along with GLF, we have investigated how far public spending cuts have already affected older people’s services in the capital, how these spending cuts are affecting older people and the local care landscape, and what the impact is likely to be if spending cuts continue.
Our report - 'Don’t cut care in London' - demonstrates that spending by local authorities in London has shrunk over the last three financial years, despite the number of older people in the population increasing. There has been a spending cut of just over 3.4 per cent from 2009-10 to 2011-12. This figure would have been almost 7.4 per cent without an additional transfer of just over £99.85 million from the NHS to support social care budgets across London. There is now an urgent drive for all practitioners to develop new thinking and new service models to support older Londoners.
The report examines how cuts have affected a wide range of older people’s services, from increasing the price of Meals on Wheels, to closing day and resource centres. It also looks at the likely impact of cuts on older people, drawing from the evidence of three focus groups held in August 2011. Emerging issues include increasing social isolation as many of the threatened services help older people live independently and stay active within the community.
The report’s key recommendations are:
- Local authorities are urged to plan their spending priorities so as to avoid further cuts to frontline social care services for older people in the financial year 2012-13.
- Local authorities are urged to work with older people and the voluntary sector to maintain the benefits of frontline services to older people, including preventive services.
- All older people applying for social care support must be given a clear and genuine choice of whether to take up a personal budget or to opt for a good quality commissioned service.
- The Government must publish by Easter 2012 a White Paper taking forward the key proposals of the Dilnot Commission, including details of how the new proposals will be funded, and commit to introducing legislation in the next Queen’s Speech.
Sam Mauger, Chief Executive of Age UK London, says:
“Older people’s care in London is already overstretched. We know that local authorities have to make overall cuts in their spending, but further cuts to fundamental services like personal care for older people in London could harm vulnerable people. Positive reform of the care funding system is needed so that it can meet growing needs over the coming years. Collectively, we can make a difference.”