Care for elderly becoming ’increasingly rationed

Government-funded care for the elderly is becoming increasingly rationed, leaving growing numbers to fend for themselves, a review has suggested.

A joint King's Fund and Nuffield Trust report looks at the current state of social care services for older people in England, considering the impact of cuts in local authority spending on social care providers and on older people, their families and carers.

‘Social care for older people: Home truths’ reveals that the number of over-65s being helped by councils had fallen by a quarter in the four years to 2014, despite more people needing help.

Due, in part, to the ageing population, the report said there had been a rise in those left without support, while others now had to pay for their care.

The think tanks carried out interviews with people working in the service and being cared for, as well as analysing existing data during their review.

As a result, the report highlights that the number of people getting help from their council with care had fallen by 26 per cent to 850,000 in the four years to 2014. On top of this, 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, which still represents a cut of nine per cent.

Over 40 per cent of money paid to care homes came from people paying for themselves, with one million people with care needs now receive no formal or informal help - a rise of 10 per cent in a year.

Richard Humphries, assistant director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said: ‘‘The failure of successive governments to reform social care has resulted in a failing system that leaves older people, their families and carers to pick up the pieces. Putting this right will be a key test of the Prime Minister’s promise of a more equal country that works for everyone – there is no more burning injustice in Britain today than older people being denied the care they need to live with independence and dignity.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association's Community Wellbeing Board, added: “The growing demand of an ageing population, as well as the increasing costs following the introduction of the National Living Wage, are squeezing care home and domiciliary care providers to the point of collapse.

"As a starting point, government should bring forward the £700 million Better Care Fund money earmarked for the end of the decade to 2016/17 to protect vital social care services essential to easing the pressure on care providers and on the NHS."