A "catastrophic" situation is developing in England with many
vulnerable elderly people being denied care, according to Age UK's
'Care in Crisis' report.
The charity's annual review found the proportion of
over-65s getting help had fallen by a third since 2005-6.
Last year, under 900,000 over-65s got help - one in 10 people in
that group - compared with 15% seven years ago.
An estimate of at least 800,000 older people were going
without vital help.
This includes council-funded help in the home with daily tasks
such as washing, dressing and eating as well as care home
Squeeze on funding
Age UK blamed the squeeze on funding, which had forced councils
to reduce budgets by 15% in real terms over the past three years to
The report - the charity's annual review of the state of social
care - said this had resulted in councils increasingly rationing
services. Just 13% of local authorities now provide help to people
with moderate needs compared with nearly half in 2005-6.
Councils have cut their social care budgets in response to cuts
from central Government.
Many councils have restricted their provision of social care
over recent years by tightening their eligibility criteria. Only
three of the 152 councils still help those with "low" needs and
only 16 offer services to those with "moderate" needs. The vast
majority – 130 councils – only provide help for over-65s with
"substantial" or "critical" needs, while three only do so to people
in the latter category.
The Local Government Association, which represents councils,
said: "Significant cuts to council funding and a rapidly growing
ageing population have taken their toll on the system, but
satisfaction rates for people receiving care are still around 90%.
Unless social care funding is put on a sustainable footing, social
care services will remain substantially underfunded and the good
intentions of the fund and wider care and support reforms will
suffer as a result."
Age UK's Chief Executive's comments
Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said: "The figures we
have uncovered in this report are catastrophic.
"Older people who need help and are now not getting it are being
placed at significant risk and families who care for loved ones are
experiencing intolerable strain."
With regard to the cuts in local council funding, she said:
"If older people do not receive the care they need and as a
consequence end up in A&E units and hospital wards, we have
simply shifted people around the system at great financial cost and
created distress and disruption for older people in the process.
This make absolutely no moral or economic sense."
Government is attempting to ease the pressure on the
system by creating a pooled £3.8bn budget with the NHS next year to
encourage greater co-ordination and then in 2016 the cap on care
costs will be introduced.
But Ms Abraham said this would have limited benefit because the
system was so underfunded.
The government plans to tackle the variability of social care
through the Care Bill, letting the health secretary set national
eligibility criteria for the first time. Those criteria are likely
to result in help only for those with "substantial" or "moderate"
Care and Support Minister's comment
Norman Lamb, the care and support minister, said: "Social care
is a priority for this government which is why we have already
allocated an extra £1.1bn to councils from the NHS to protect
services. But both our health and social care services need to work
differently to respond to the needs of our ageing population – we
need to focus on keeping people well and living independently for
as long as possible."
the Care in Crisis report and find out more about Age UK's are
campaign (link opens in a new window)
Sources: BBC News article (link
opens in a new window) and
Guardian news article (link opens in a new window)
Date of publication: 6 March 2014