Age UK has called for a “big cash injection” for social care in Wednesday’s Spending Review.
A major new report from the charity, ‘The Health and Care for Older People in England 2019’, says “very substantial additional investment” is required in 2020/21 to avoid the risk of complete collapse of some services.
The report says there is a “desperate need” for a long term plan for the sector and the funding to match as is already in place for the NHS.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Our new report paints a frightening picture of where our social care system is heading unless the Government intervenes quickly and decisively to arrest its spiralling decline. When you strip out the complexity the story is really very simple: demand is going up but funding and supply are going down, leaving increasing numbers of older people to fend for themselves, rely on loved ones if that’s an option for them, or pay through the nose via a hefty stealth tax without which many care homes would not stay afloat.”
The report reveals a system under “extreme duress” with 58 Directors of Adult Social Care Services reporting at least one care home closure in 2018.
The number of elderly people with unmet needs grew to 1 in 7 in 2018 (1.4m people) from 1 in 8 in 2016, according to Age UK.
Total net expenditure on the sector, including additional funding and means tested contributions, fell by half a billion pounds in real terms to £21.7bn in 2017/18 from 2010/11, the report reveals.
Meanwhile, the sector increasingly relies on cross-subsidy with private funding costing 41% more than local authority funded care.
Age UK reveals that funding has failed to keep pace with rising demand with spending per head falling by almost a fifth between 2010/11 and 2017/18.
More than half the 1.32m new requests for care from elderly people in 2017/18 resulted in no service being provided or people being referred elsewhere, the report says.