14 February 2019
The charity Age UK has warned that more than 50,000 people in England have died waiting for care, while the Government has delayed long-awaited plans to reform the funding of social care.
Age UK put the delay of the social care plans into focus with its statistical release on what was the “700th day since the Chancellor announced there would be a Green Paper” in his Budget announcement of 2017.
Since then, Age UK figures have illustrated how 54,025 older people died while waiting for a care package to be put in place for them; 626,701 people had their requests for social care refused by their council; and 7240 older people ran down all their savings today for their care bills, leaving them reliant on the State to fund their care in future and with nothing to leave for loved ones after their death.
Age UK also found that 1,263,844 older people had developed an unmet need, such as being able to wash or dress, since the Chancellor’s announcement, which totals 1805 people developing an unmet need every day.
The charity believes that tightening eligibility for council-funded social care has meant that 626,701 people, or 895 a day, have had requests for social care refused since March 2017. More than a million older people had developed an unmet care need in that time, such as needing help with washing or dressing.
Age UK Charity Director Caroline Abrahams said: “These tragic new figures demonstrate just how many older people are now suffering from the Government’s failure to act decisively on social care.
“No one can say whether some of those who have died might have lived longer had they received care, but at the very least their final weeks and months might have been more comfortable and their families’ lives made easier had they been given more support.”
The charity’s figures were released as the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is accusing ministers of having no meaningful plan to ensure local authority finances were sustainable in the future. The PAC has warned that after eight years in which central Government funding has halved, councils are under “enormous pressure” just to maintain essential services.
PAC Chair Meg Hillier said: “Government needs to get real, listen fully to the concerns of local government and take a hard look at the real impact funding reductions have on local services.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring everyone has access to the care and support they need and have provided local authorities with access to up to £3.6 billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year and up to £3.9 billion for next year to help meet people’s needs.
“We are determined to make social care sustainable for the future and will publish our proposals in a Green Paper shortly.”