Funding for older people’s services run by local authorities in
England looks set to be slashed from April.
The government’s allocation for the services under the new formula
spending share is £797m less than the £5.69bn for 2002-3
calculated under the standard spending assessment which it
The figures, analysed by the Liberal Democrats on the Local
Government Association, show that even the 10 councils with the
highest numbers of older people face significant cuts in the next
financial year. Essex will lose £28.2m from its 2002-3 budget
of £146.8m, West Sussex faces a £16.6m cut from £89m
and East Sussex will have £16.4m lopped from this year’s
Councils may try to make up the shortfall by raising council taxes.
But the Lib Dems are concerned that the cuts will result in a
“treble whammy” for older people’s services, which also face higher
costs due to the new care standards and the proposals in the
Community Care (Delayed Discharges) Bill.
Capacity in the older people’s care home sector is already
stretched. A survey of 70 private care homes by Which?
magazine has found that at least seven out of 10 were full, making
it increasingly difficult for older people to find a place.
It found that in Brighton and Bristol just one in 10 homes had a
vacancy. Nationally, only 15 out of the 70 homes surveyed could
offer a non-shared room.
Staff at one home said they may have to wait two or three years for
a room to become available. Several homes were not taking in new
residents because they were closing or changing ownership.
More than half of the homes charged higher prices than those
offered by the local authority. In Brighton and Coventry all the
homes surveyed charged more than the fee levels councils stated
they were prepared to pay.
Researchers concluded that local authorities were not paying enough
to meet the fees charged by care homes, making it difficult for
many older people to find an affordable home.
– For the figures see: www.local.dtlr.gov.uk/finance/0304/aoc/dcmrpss5.xls