Care in crisis – massive fall in care spend for older people since 2010

This blog was contributed by Jill Mortimer, Policy Adviser at Age UK

Older lady with carer in care home

When we first started our research for the Age UK Care in Crisis 2014 briefing, we expected to find that there had been some reduction in funding for older people’s social care services, given the continued pressure on public funding.

However, we had hopes that the Better Care Fund announced by the Government last year would put the system on a better financial basis, as well as improve the system by encouraging more joint working between health and social care locally.

And we were encouraged by the Care Bill’s emphasis on health and wellbeing as providing a really good starting point for better supporting older people’s aspirations and needs.

However, our research has shown us that the current social care system is in even deeper crisis than it was when we published our last briefing in 2012.

There have been even more dramatic real-term cuts in the funding available to social care services, despite transfers from the NHS to try and protect services.

At the same time, the older population continues to grow, especially people aged 85 and over who are the most likely to need care. Specifically:

  • The overall funding for social care has decreased by more than £750 million in real terms since 2010. That’s a reduction of 10%.
  • In the last nine years the number of people using local authority supported services has decreased by 334,000. Taking account of the growth in the population that means there are 35% fewer older people getting any help from public funding with their care.
  • Day care and home care have seen the biggest reductions, with more and more resources focused on residential and nursing care.
  • Most councils only provide support to people with ‘substantial’ requirements. Most people who need help bathing, or getting out of bed, or getting out of the house won’t receive any publicly funded help.

Our analysis shows that, although welcome, the Better Care Fund will do little to reverse these trends.

Unless there is a radical increase in money for the system, all the good features introduced by the Care Bill will be ineffective. We need politician of all parties to think again about ways to fund the system!

Care in Crisis is Age UK’s campaign to ensure that every older person is able to get the care they need. Find out more about the campaign at www.ageuk.org.uk/careincrisis 

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