Age UK reveals ‘devastating’ council cuts in elderly care

Councils are making 'devastating' cuts of 8.4% to older people's social care in England this year, hastening the 'collapse of a crumbling' system, warns Age UK today.

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Councils are making “devastating” cuts of 8.4% to older people’s social care in England this year, hastening the “collapse of a crumbling” system, warns Age UK today.

The figure, based on Freedom of Information requests by the charity, is well above the government’s estimate of a 4.7% reduction overall in council budgets in 2011-12.

Net spend on older people’s social care will fall by £610m between 2010-11 and 2011-12.

These findings come the week before the Dilnot Commission is due to publish its landmark recommendations for the future funding for social care.

Age UK has previously predicted that council cuts from 2011-15 will leave more than one million older people in need not receiving formal care – up from 800,000 – and slash support for those in receipt of services.

Among the 139 councils who responded to the request, 110 gave details of their planned net expenditure, revealing an £828m cut in spend before extra NHS spending on social care was taken into account.

Looking ahead to the Dilnot Commission’s report, Age UK called on the government to commit to a minimum £3bn a year in extra spending for those with the highest needs and lowest means.

Age UK director Michelle Mitchell said: “The consequences of cutting expenditure further to 8.4%, indicated by our research, could be devastating.

“We are fearful that even more vulnerable older people will be left to struggle alone and in some cases lives will be put at risk. We anticipate these cuts will condemn many more older people to a miserable existence behind closed doors struggling to keep safe and well,” she said.

Among other findings:

• In 2011-12, the net annual expenditure per person over the age of 65 is falling to £791 from £864 in 2010-2011 and £872 in 2009-10.

• In 2011-12 the planned net expenditure by local authorities per individual older person who needs care, has been slashed to £2,335 from £2,548 in 2010-11 and £2,573 in 2009-10.

• At least 61 councils are making savings by increasing or making new charges on social care provision such as home help or day care centres.

• At least 27 councils are making savings by reducing personal budgets or domiciliary care packages, meaning that those who receive support will receive fewer hours of help

• At least 25 councils are making savings by reducing the number of placements in care homes available.

• 76 councils have either frozen or decreased the rates they pay for residential homes for older people, leaving older people and their families who pay “top-up fees” to absorb any price increases.

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