What should we think about ‘the Four Seasons story’?

Like lots of people with an interest in social care I have been following the travails of Four Seasons over the last few days. For anyone not up to speed, Four Seasons is a major care home provider in this country, with some 17,000 predominantly older residents and 25,000 staff. Four Seasons is now reportedly in financial difficulty and the regulator of the social care sector, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has called for its biggest creditor to confirm that it will stand behind the company and not allow it to collapse. [Although it has since won a reprieve  until April 2018, the uncertainty over its longer-term future continues]. 

Continue reading “What should we think about ‘the Four Seasons story’?”

Budget 2017

Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer

This blog post was contributed by Rob Henderson, Public Affairs Manager at Age UK. 

This was a challenging budget for the Chancellor to deliver. Over five months ago, the snap general election changed the political landscape beyond recognition: a very slim majority, a difficult economic outlook and with the shadow of Brexit over everything the government had little wiggle room.

For Age UK the focus for radical policy improvement and investment needed to be on the social care system. The Prime Minister made the case for social care reform in the Conservative party’s manifesto, making a commitment to ‘act where others have failed to lead’ and the Government’s recent announcement that it will release a Green Paper on social care in summer 2018 is welcome news. However, this budget was an opportunity to plug the gap that exists in the system right now, not kick the issue into the long grass.  Continue reading “Budget 2017”

Finally a focus on social care…?


As a Surrey resident working for Age UK, I felt quite confused and conflicted about how to vote in the prospective local referendum on a 15% council tax rise. On one hand, I really wasn’t happy about a huge hike in my bills but on the other hand through my work I am acutely aware of the enormous funding gap that has opened up in recent years between social care budgets and the growing number of people needing care and support. I felt grudgingly supportive of the leader of Surrey Council, David Hodge’s radical stance but not desperately keen on his solution.

Continue reading “Finally a focus on social care…?”

We are living on borrowed time in saving social care for older people


Over the past year the chorus of voices calling for more funding for social care has become increasingly unanimous and urgent. Age UK’s new report, The Health and Care of Older People in England, provides stark evidence of the suffering that many older people with care needs are experiencing, and of the need for immediate action to avert system collapse.
Continue reading “We are living on borrowed time in saving social care for older people”

‘Stuck in the middle’ – Self funders in care homes


If you’ve ever made a massive purchase like buying a home or taken out a large loan or mortgage, as you picked up the pen to sign on the dotted line, you might well have had your doubts about whether you’d really read and understood all the small print. Moving into a care home is another one of those huge decisions, with major consequences if you get it wrong. So it’s just as vital to understand what you’re signing.

Yet moving into a care home is frequently a hurried and pressurised decision, which for many comes after a spell in hospital. People are often ill, facing the stress of living with new levels of disability and confronting the reality of losing their home, community and identity. Some will also have reduced mental capacity. At times like these reading the small print is often not a priority and, in any case, many people are faced with limited options so can feel they have no choice but to agree to the home’s terms and conditions. Continue reading “‘Stuck in the middle’ – Self funders in care homes”

The delayed spending cap – next steps

The decision to delay, and possibly abandon, implementation of the lifetime cap on spending on care, is a retreat from a commitment that the Government made in its manifesto for the last Election. As a result, the risk of endlessly spiralling care bills remains and for as long as no cap is in place older people with assets will justifiably worry that they could be ‘wiped out’ financially if they are unlucky enough to need long term care. It is very disappointing that after all the efforts of the Dilnot Commission to come up with a solution so that older people could have peace of mind, this problem remains.

It should not be overlooked that the Government’s announcement also delays the implementation of two other important commitments.

First, although the Government’s decision not to implement the lifetime spending cap received the most attention, a second decision announced at the same time will actually adversely affect more people. It was that they would not be raising to £118,000 the maximum level of assets that are taken into account in deciding whether people must pay for their own care, as originally planned. Continue reading “The delayed spending cap – next steps”

Care cap delayed

The implementation of a lifetime spending cap on the amount an individual would spend on care was a flagship of the former coalition government’s social care policy, and a manifesto commitment for the present government. However implementation of the spending cap, originally intended for April 2016, has now been delayed until 2020. This means after the next election, so this delay raises considerable doubts about whether the cap will ever be implemented at all.

Age UK supported the proposed spending cap in principle and still does, but as we have said before, the devil is in the detail. For example the Dilnot Commission on long term care funding, which thought up the idea of the cap, originally set the cap at £35,000- £50,000, which was carefully calculated to ensure that the less well off would benefit. This objective was undermined by the government’s decision to raise the cap to £72,000.

Now that details of the scheme have emerged – with draft regulations being published only just before the election – it has become clear that the top priority must be to stop the social care system that millions of older people depend on from collapsing in its entirety.The most urgent priority arises from the current situation where cash strapped local authorities have restricted care to the point where over a million older people who are unable to carry out at least one vital activity of daily living without difficulty (for example using the toilet, getting dressed) receive no care whatsoever. Continue reading “Care cap delayed”