Philip Hammond must inject new funds in the spring budget
The government’s strategy for social care is failing, and the system may fall apart in the worst affected areas this year or next, according to a new report from Age UK.
The organisation has found that 1.2 million over-65s currently lack the care they require, a 17.9 per cent increase on last year and a 48 per cent increase on 2010. In other words, one in eight older people now live with an unmet care need.
While the government claims to be responding to the social care crisis, Age UK director Caroline Abrahams warns that its measures — financial transfers from the NHS, the social care precept and calling on family and friends to do more — are inadequate.
“Our analysis shows there are problems with all three approaches, which in any event are not enough to make up for the chronic shortfall in public funds: the NHS is now under such financial pressure that it can’t keep bailing out social care; the amount the social care precept can raise doesn’t match the needs in an area — with the poorest places at great risk of losing out; and new Age UK analysis shows that the numbers of families and friends coming forward to care are not keeping pace with a rising ageing population.”
The number of people providing unpaid care for elderly friends or relatives is rising, and over two million unpaid carers are themselves over 65.
Much of this pressure is created by the ageing population, but the Conservatives refuse to alleviate the pressure through meaningfully increased funding. Since they took office in 2010, there has been a £160m real-terms cut in public spending on older people’s social care.
Age UK warns that by 2020/21, spending must increase by a minimum of £1.65bn to avoid the quality of service becoming even worse than it is today. It’s calling on Philip Hammond to begin increasing spending in his spring budget in three weeks time.
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“This is an incredibly serious situation that demands an immediate government response. We urge the government to make an emergency injection of funds into social care in the Spring Budget to stave off the risk of complete collapse. But even that’s not enough: the Government must also get on with developing a long term solution to the care crisis.”