Responding to a report released today by Age UK on the care of older people in England, the NHS Confederation, which represents 85% of providers and commissioners, urged the government to do more in the Budget for local authorities.
Chief executive Niall Dickson said: “The evidence is overwhelming – vast numbers of older people with lots of different health conditions now find themselves in crisis because the system cannot cope.
“The case for more social care funding is immediate and unanswerable to relieve pressure on the NHS and relieve the suffering of those affected,” he said.
In Health and Care of Older People in England 2017, Age UK concludes the social care system for older people is heading for “complete collapse” and that the government’s strategy to tackle the issue is failing.
Consequently, the charity is urging Whitehall to commit to an urgent injection of funds in next month’s Budget and put in place a long-term strategy to deal with the crisis.
Almost 1.2 million people aged 65 and over don’t receive the care support they need for essential daily living activities, according to the report. This represents a 17.9% rise from last year, and a 48% rise from 2010. Of the entire older population, almost 1 in 8 are now living with some unmet need.
Age UK highlighted there had been a £160m cut in total public spending in real terms of older people’s social care in the five years to 2015/16, during a period of rapidly rising demand and an ageing population.
The government has responded to the issue by shifting money from the NHS, allowing local areas to apply a 3% social care precept to raise funds, and calling on relatives to take a greater role in caring for loved ones.
However, Age UK’s report says public spending would need to increase by a minimum of £1.65bn to £9.99bn by 2020/21 just to offset greater demand and cost inflation.
The government has made an extra £1.4bn available through the Better Care Fund, however, this won’t be available in full until 2019-20. Moreover, money raised through the precept has fallen slightly short of the expected £1.8bn, and the benefits vary widely by location.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said the report was worrying, if unsurprising, and warned that council’s overspend on social care was unsustainable in the long term.
Margaret Willcox, president elect, said: “With councils projecting a total overspend on adult social care of nearly £450m by the end of this financial year… sustainable funding is needed to stabilise a care market in crisis.
“Only genuinely new money will solve the crisis which will only get worse whilst we wait for a solution,” she said.