Help the Aged/Age Concern: Unmet social care need to rocket

Unmet need for social care among older people in England will rocket if projected public spending cuts from 2011-13 take effect, research published today by Help the Aged and Age Concern has found.

The study found that a gap of £1.75bn would emerge by 2013 between annual public spending on older people’s care and the level of expenditure required to keep pace with rising demand, denying state-funded services to about 490,000 pensioners.

While an estimated 300,000 people would access care privately, at their own cost, about 180,000 would go without services altogether.

With the government due to produce its final Budget before the election tomorrow, Age Concern and Help the Aged called on ministers to prevent this from happening by shifting resources from the NHS to social care to meet at least some of the shortfall.

The report examined the consequences for social care of the 6.7% annual fall in state expenditure on care from 2011-13 predicted by public spending experts the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The IFS’s projections are based on the government’s overall estimates for public spending from 2011 onwards and its promise to protect certain areas from real-terms cuts, including schools, overseas aid and the NHS.

The Conservatives would also protect the NHS and overseas aid, but neither party has offered any protection to adult social care.

Michelle Miller, Age Concern and Help the Aged’s charity director, said: “We recognise the need for spending constraint in this Budget but the axe must not fall on the services that older people rely on most. Transferring resources from the NHS to older people’s care would be a tough decision to make, but one that could ultimately save money as well as the lives of many older people.”

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