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30.01.12

Social care funding falls as inflation bites

Spending on social care for the elderly in England is falling, according to an Age UK report. The charity states that £7.3bn is being budgeted this year for social care, the same amount as last year, but with inflation, represents an amount 4.5% lower.

The report and analysis is based on official data, showing how reductions in local government funding mean that councils are cutting spending by £341m. With rising demand from an ageing population, Age UK suggests the situation will only get worse.

Age UK believes there are 2 million people in theUKwith care needs, of which 800,000 are without any formal support.

Ministers are set to publish plans in the spring to reform the care system, but maintained that extra funds would be available for councils. However, local authorities have been restricting access to services and increasing fees due to lack of funding.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director of Age UK, said: “Behind these figures are real older people struggling to cope without the support they need, compromising their dignity and safety on a daily basis.

“Social care is not a nice-to-have extra – it is the support that helps older people get out of bed, feed themselves, have a wash and live a life that is more than just an existence.”

Care services minister Paul Burstow said: “We believe councils have enough to maintain the current levels of access and eligibility but they will need to work hard and smart, and invest in things like telecare and re-ablement [helping people regain skills] to free up more money for front-line services.”

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