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Four out of five councils not meeting older people’s care needs

Four-fifths of councils are struggling to meet the needs of older people in their area, according to the Family and Childcare Trust’s Older People’s Care Survey.

The report found that four out of five local authorities, covering areas home to 6.4 million people aged over 65, said they did not have enough older people’s care in their area to meet demand.

There was also wide variation in the type of services available. While 84% said they had enough availability for care home places, just 48% had enough capacity for home care, and only 32% had enough specialist dementia places.

Claire Harding, head of research at the Family and Childcare Trust, argued: “It is inexcusable that vulnerable people are left unable to find the care that they need.

“We urge government to make sure there is enough care for everyone who needs it. In order to do this, we need robust data on where there are gaps in care, a funding system that truly meets the cost of providing care, and clear information for families.”

Many councils were unable to tell the trust how many privately-funded care providers lived in their area, and how much they paid for care.

In addition, over a quarter did not have sufficient data about whether the availability of care in their area could meet demand.

The trust called on the government to guarantee that there are enough care places available by providing them through local or central government where private providers fail to meet demand.

It argued this should be accompanied by sufficient funding to meet the growing cost of specialist services, and more money for upstream intervention services to help people maintain their independence.

Other recommendations included a social care provision data tracking programme; providing those with caring responsibilities 10 days of paid care leave a year; and requiring local authorities to publish up-to-date information for families about social care in their area.

Local authority social care spending has been under immense pressure in recent years, with the overall deficit estimated to reach £2.6bn by 2020.

The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation have all warned that councils could face legal action for failing to carry out their statutory duties.

The Health Select Committee, the LGA, Age UK and the boss of Devo Manc have all called on the government to use this week’s Autumn Statement to direct extra funding towards social care.

In response, a Department of Health spokesperson said: “This government is committed to making sure older people throughout the country get affordable and dignified care.

“We are significantly increasing the amount of money local authorities have access to for social care, by up to £3.5bn by 2020.”

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