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Carers UK concern at rise in charges for care

29 December 2011

Carers UK today expressed concern at new evidence that care charges were continuing to rise whilst the incomes of many older people and their families needing care were falling placing increasing pressure on families that are already struggling.

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, said, “Rising care charges has a negative effect on the very people who need those services.  When care charges rise, families can end up sick with worry about whether they can afford those services long term and many refuse them as a result.  Others struggle to pay for services as costs rise.  Past research by Carers UK has around that around 1 in 7 people (12.5%) forgo services because they worry they will not be able to afford them.  This has a devastating effect on families as health suffers, employment and jobs are given up in order to care, and they struggle to make ends meet on top of what is already a demanding caring situation.

“The root of the problem is the lack of a concrete and long term plan about how this type of care is paid for and funded in the short, medium and long term.  The majority of people do not realize that they may need care and that it is not provided by the NHS free of charge and therefore do not plan to pay for care.  With years of underfunding of social care, local authorities have felt they have no alternative but to increase charges for services.

“However, year on year charging increases, without fundamental reform of the system will just pile pressure onto families as they struggle to care for relatives who are disabled or older.  This is not a sustainable solution for the six million families providing care, unpaid, society, business in the UK and the economy are paying the price.  With an ageing population, the model of care we have is not working and needs urgently fixing.”

According to a survey carried out by the Care and Support Alliance, an alliance of over 55 voluntary organizations, found that 9% of people of all ages and disabilities using services had seen an increase in their charges for services in 2009/10.

Government has pledged to look at reforming the social care system and will publish a White Paper in the Spring alongside a progress report on funding of social care.  Carers UK wants to see several key areas tackled in that paper:

  • the development of a clear system of care where people know what they are entitled to and can plan for care
  • a greater emphasis on information and advice, particularly around planning for care
  • a system which protects individuals from the catastrophic costs of care
  • new legislation which updates the law, makes it easier to understand for professionals and for families

Notes

  1. Every local authority can determine its own charging policies for services in the community and they vary from local authority to local authority across England. They do not have to charge, but nearly all do.  Guidance from Government states that local authorities can charge the full amount to anyone who has savings of over £23,250 per year, but that disabled and older people must not be an income of less than 25% over Income Support or Pension Credit levels. Click here to find out more.
  2. Care and Support Alliance was convened by Carers UK 2 years ago to campaign for the reform of social care. Convened by Carers UK, it has over 55 members including MS Society, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Disability Rights UK, Mencap, Motor Neurone Disease Association and Home Group. www.careandsupportalliance.org
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