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Tuesday, 07 July 2015

Osborne warned on further social care cuts as 1 million elderly 'stranded'

Written by The Press Association

More than a million older people are struggling to cope with basic tasks such as getting out of bed, washing and dressing with no help, a charity has warned, as it called on Chancellor George Osborne to stop making cuts to social care funding.

Age UK said its figures reveal the extent to which older people are being left "stranded" at a time when the size of the older population is growing at an increasing rate and the system for keeping them fit and well at home has become much weaker.

The charity said 100,000 more people are facing such problems compared to last year, and this is having a knock-on effect on the NHS as numbers of unplanned emergency hospital admissions have increased from 1.8 million in 2005/06 to 2.2 million in 2012/13 amongst those aged 65 and over.

But it added that, at the same time, spending on social care services for older people has plunged by almost a third from £8.1 billion in 2005/06 to £5.46 billion in 2014/15.

Community care services have been hardest hit with a huge cut of £560 million (25%) since 2010/11 alone.

Last month the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) warned that a further £1.1 billion will be taken out of social care budgets this year.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "These new figures mean that for the first time in this country, more than a million older people with a social care need are being left to cope on their own.

"Not only are they without help from the social care system, they are also not getting it from family, friends or neighbours either.

"To have to struggle alone is unfair on these older people and also unacceptable in a civilised society."

She said the charity agrees with comments made by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last week when he said everyone should take more responsibility for the care of the elderly.

"But the immediate problem we face is that at the same time as the older population is growing, the Government has cut social care funding to such an extent that the numbers of older people needing help and not getting it are rising exponentially.

"This downward spiral in social care and support for older people can't go on. The Budget on July 8 offers a great opportunity for the Government to begin to address it and a million older people need them to take urgent action."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "Only last week the Health Secretary highlighted that within the next five years we will have a million more over 70s in the UK and that as a society we all need to play a greater role in providing care and support.

"The Government is playing its part by increasing the NHS budget and through our £5.3 billion Better Care Fund which joins up health and care services so they focus on preventing people from becoming ill and helping them to live independently."

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