LGA: Government failing to address care issues
Caring Times, December 2012
Failure to tackle how care is funded is leaving elderly people in limbo and could strip them of their dignity and their assets, social care experts warned in October.
More than 80 council leaders, charity directors, directors of adult services, chief executives and social care experts said government was failing to adequately plan for the care needed by our rapidly ageing population.
Government has also been unsuccessful in addressing the immediate and growing funding crisis in how we provide care to those who need it now, they say.
The findings are part of a survey, conducted by the Local Government Association. Figures show more than four in five experts (83 per cent) believe government plans have failed to move towards a system that provides sufficient funding.
In addition, nearly nine in ten (88 per cent) say the proposals don’t address the funding needed to meet the demographic pressures facing the country, which the LGA estimates will add a further £2 billion to the annual care bill by 2015. This is in addition to the £1.89 billion reduction in social care budgets councils are already facing.
The timetable for reform is also called into question with almost two in three people (62 per cent) saying the proposed timetable doesn’t recognise the urgency of the problem or commit to immediate action. Council leaders are now warning that continued failure to tackle how care will be funded is leaving older people and their families facing financial uncertainty and at risk of losing their dignity.
Cllr David Rogers, Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “The current care system is in danger of collapsing. Unless we see urgent action the growing funding crisis threatens our ability to provide basic daily services that older people rely on such as help with washing, getting out of bed, and meals on wheels.
“We are deeply concerned that failure to properly fund adult social care is leaving people in limbo and threatening the dignity and independence of the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on council support and just want to live comfortably and without a lifetime of worry.
“We need to see reform of the system so that it provides peace of mind for older people and their families and allows them to properly prepare for the very real cost of care. It’s a scandal that people currently face the prospect of dipping into hard earned savings or losing their homes because of soaring care bills.
“But this issue goes beyond providing care to elderly and disabled people. By the end of the decade councils may be forced to wind down some of the most popular services they provide, such as leisure centres, parks and road maintenance, unless urgent action is taken to address the crisis in adult social care funding.
“The Coalition says it understands the need for reform. Now it’s time for government to make the financing of social care a priority, to show that politicians really do care, and create a social care system we can be proud of for generations to come.”
The results highlight the sector-wide concern around how care and home help services in England will be paid for and summarises the sector’s response to the Government’s care and support white paper. However, the figures show there is consensus that the white paper is moving in the right direction on some areas of care with almost two in three experts (61 per cent) believing the plans offer a move towards a system that would improve the individual’s experience.
Other findings show: 89% don’t believe the white paper provides enough money for much needed reform of the system 67% say it doesn’t incentivise a move to more cost effective early intervention work 69% of respondents said the proposals take a positive step in recognising the valuable contribution of informal carers, such as when a family member looks after an elderly relative 48% believe it moves towards a system that encourages people to live healthily, and in turn prevent the onset of avoidable and expensive long-term conditions later in life 58% say it will help to ensure appropriate links with health and wellbeing boards