Councils risk legal action over cuts to care

The Nuffield Trust, King's Fund and Health Foundation have issued a joint plea to ministers warning that the care sector was facing a funding shortage which was so significant there is a risk families may take legal action.

In the submission the think tanks highlighted figures which show how local authorities have reduced the amount of support they provide to older people.

The warning comes ahead of Chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement later this month on government spending.

The think tanks argued that the numbers getting help from their council with care had fallen by 26 per cent to 850,000 in the four years to 2014; spending on care by councils had fallen by 25 per cent in real terms in the five years to 2015, to £5.1 billion; additional money from the NHS and increased contributions from individuals had topped this up to £7.2 billion, but that still represented a cut of nine per cent; more than 40 per cent of money paid to care homes came from people paying for themselves; one million people with care needs now receive no formal or informal help - a rise of 10 per cent in a year; and once younger people with disabilities are included, the funding shortfall was likely to be in the region of £1.9 billion next year.

Richard Humphries, from the King's Fund, warned that the rising numbers of complaints about care being made to the Local Government Ombudsman and a rise in the number being upheld is a sign that councils are struggling to meet their statutory duties under the Care Act.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, of the Local Government Association, said: "Unless social care is properly funded, there is a real risk to the quality and safety of care and being able to meet basic needs such as ensuring people are washed and dressed or helped out of bed.”

"The government must use the Autumn Statement to provide councils with the funding to ensure we have a fair care system which keeps people out of hospital and living independent, dignified lives at home and in the community."