THE failure of the Government to decide how the country's
social-care system will be funded will have a "devastating impact"
on elderly people struggling to cope alone, Age UK has warned.
The White Paper Caring For Our Future: Reforming care and
support, published on Wednesday of last week, includes
many of the recommendations made by charities during a
consultation. National eligibility criteria will be introduced, to
provide clarity about how an individual's needs and entitlement to
care will be assessed. A draft Care and Support Bill, also
published on Wednesday, makes it clear that an adult's eligible
needs will be "met by the local authority, subject to their
The White Paper also sets out plans to give carers the right to
an assessment of their needs, with "clear entitlement to support to
help them maintain their own health and well-being".
These proposals were welcomed by Dr Emma Stone, of the Joseph
Rowntree Foundation, but she warned: "We'll have the best policies
and laws in Europe on social care stuck on to an outdated,
unsustainable, ineffective funding system."
A review commissioned by the Government a year ago, led by the
economist Andrew Dilnot, warned that the current funding system for
social care was in need of "urgent and lasting reform". Mr Dilnot
suggested that the Government should cap the contribution that
people made to the costs of their care at £35,000.
The Government said on Wednesday of last week that it supported
"the principles" of this approach, but there remained "a number of
important questions and trade-offs to be considered". The economic
situation meant that "we are unable to commit to introducing the
new system at this stage."
The charity director-general of Age UK, Michelle Mitchell, said
that the delay on a funding decision would have a "devastating
impact" on those currently in need of care. The charity estimates
that there are almost 800,000 older people struggling to cope
Louise Morse, of the Pilgrims' Friend Society, which provides
care for elderly Christians, said on Monday that local authorities'
eligibilty criteria for care were being "squeezed and squeezed". A
focus on domiciliary rather than residential care was leading to
"people just being put in pads and diapers, and being left there
overnight in bed until the carer comes in the morning". How to fund
the care of the ageing population was a "big ethical argument that
is not being addressed".
More than eight out of ten people aged 65 will need some care
and support in their later years.
"Housing crisis". The Bishop of Chester, Dr
Peter Forster, has called on the Government to invest in building
social housing to address the "housing crisis" facing the
In the House of Lords, on Thursday of last week, Dr Forster said
that the lack of housing and the capital cost of new-build housing
was leading to rising rents and a soaring housing-benefit bill.
This situation is acknowledged in the Government's housing
strategy, in which the Prime Minister said that "for decades in
Britain we have under-built. . . the economic and social
consequences of this failure have affected millions."
The Bishop questioned whether the answer was to promote a return
to greater levels of home ownership, and said that the private
sector and housing associations alone were "unlikely" to be able to
respond to the need. "Is there not a strong economic case for
investment by the Government alongside their other schemes and the
private sector in general?" he asked.
The housing charity Shelter reports that the private rented
sector has expanded from 1.7 million households in 1988 to 3.6
million in 2010/11, and will overtake the social rented sector
within a few years. Spending on housing benefit has nearly doubled
in the past decade to an estimated £21.6 billion.
Shelter estimates that approximately 240,000 new homes a year
are required, a third of which should be social housing.