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Elderly People Left in Need by Care Cuts

By Principal Lawyer, Court of Protection

A recent report has revealed older people requiring care are being left in need as local authorities feel the effects of budget cuts.

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The joint report from the King's Fund and Nuffield Trust charities found the number of over-65s receiving care from local authorities in England dropped by a quarter over four years up to 2014.

The report also notes that one million people with care needs now receive no formal or informal help, which is a 10 per cent rise in a year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “We understand the social care system is under pressure, and this Government is committed to ensuring those in old age throughout the country can get affordable and dignified care.”

At the start of 2016 a Unison survey found that three quarters of local authorities are commissioning home care visits of just 15 minutes. Nine months later, a recent television investigation revealed these so-called ‘flying visits’ are still going on.  

For more information, please see: Rushed Care Visits Leave Thousands of Vulnerable Patients in Need

Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said: “Social care is in serious trouble, and this is putting the health and dignity of today's older people at risk.

“This report by the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust highlights the need for serious reform to a system that is being starved of the cash and the attention that it deserves.”

Local authorities have the power to provide or fund any number of care arrangements for those with care needs, and yet year on year we are seeing people go without essential help and carers, without whom the social care system would struggle to survive.

Austerity and budget cuts certainly stifle local authorities’ abilities to ensure they can adequately care for those most in need.

The situation is critical. However, some help may be at hand.

The Government has announced investments in the care system with £5 billion to encourage joint work between the NHS and the social care sector, along with a further £1.5 billion to be added by 2019. Further to this, local authorities will be able to use a two per cent increase in council tax to invest in care services.

It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to repair the system, but in the meantime every effort needs to be made to ensure local authorities do all they can to best use their significant powers under the Care Act and help those most in need.

Richard Copson is a principal lawyer in Slater and Gordon’s court of protection team, specialising in mental capacity law, disability rights and human rights law.

For a consultation with a human rights solicitor, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

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