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Elderly paying top-up costs for social care

Thousands of elderly people living in care homes are having to pay top-up fees because of a shortfall between support from local authorities and the price of care.

Research from Age UK demonstrates they are having to ask friends or family to fund around £140 a week extra to meet costs. The number of older people turning to family to pay for care has risen by 4% in the last year and a total of 28% have to supplement the cost of care.

The number of elderly people qualifying for any help dropped by 17% since 2003. Only those with savings less than £14,500 qualify to have all their needs met, with councils paying an average of £480 per week.

That falls well short of the current “fair market range” of between £528 and £623 for different levels of care accepted across the industry.

Michelle Mitchell, director general of Age UK, said: “The underfunding of social care is having a disastrous impact on frail older people and their families.

“A toxic mix of long-term chronic underfunding and more recent austerity cuts to social-care budgets is resulting in local authorities stretching their budgets and paying unfeasibly low fee levels to care homes. This in turn undermines the residential care sector, forcing homes to cut costs.

“This crisis in the funding of social care is rippling through generations and the wider economy, forcing hard-pressed families into traumatic choices, pitting the quality of care provision against the burden of shouldering top-up fees.”

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