2.3 million denied social care

MORE THAN two million people who need social care are not getting it because of cuts to local authority budgets, according to figures obtained by Labour.

Local authority-funded packages have fallen 26 per cent since 2010 — denying 400,000 people care, according to records obtained by Labour. But with an ageing population and greater demands, Labour calculates that two million more are not having their needs met. Barbara Keeley, Shadow Minister for Social Care, called for instant investment. She said: “The fall in care packages clearly is the result of near 40 per cent cuts to council funding since 2010.”

The figures, from the House of Commons Library and the Health Survey for England 2016, suggest care provided by 90 per cent of councils could hit crisis levels by 2022.

Labour MPs warned that “quality of care is on a precipice” as providers face significant financial pressures, with cuts on council funding due to spiral to £6.3 billion by next year amidst increasing demand from the ageing population. Older people in the most deprived areas were significantly more likely to have unmet care needs than were their more affluent peers, according to analysis of an official survey of thousands of people in England.

Keeley said: “Short-sighed Tory cuts to local authority budgets are seeing vulnerable people get less social care year after year, while unmet need continues to increase.

“The Tories’ piecemeal cash injections, like the £150 million given to the councils of rural Tory MPs earlier this year have done nothing to stop the cuts to packages.

“It is time for the Tories to ease this care home crisis and follow Labour’s lead by investing £8 billion across the Parliament with £1 billion up front this year…

“If the trend continues at its current rate, 14 regions will need to increase their current number of care home beds by more than 25 per cent to meet projected levels of demand.”

Yet the number of publicly-funded care packages under the new system of recording saw a four per cent drop between 2014/2015 and 2016/2017, suggesting a downward trend for the period overall.

Under the Tories there has been a fall of 26 per cent — more than 400,000 people — in the number of older people accessing publicly funded social care.

Keeley added: “These figures reinforce the damage that reckless Tory cuts are doing to older people with growing care needs. “Cuts to social care since 2010 are set to reach £6.3bn by March 2018, the funding gap continues to grow year on year and quality of care is on a precipice.

“Yet there was no money in the Budget to deal with this crisis created in Downing Street, kicking social care into the long grass, with no plans to halt the crisis now.”

The warning comes amidst warnings of intense pressures on the wider health service, as increased demand, tightening budgets and poor working conditions have seen more than 100,000 NHS jobs lying vacant.

Analysis of data from the Health Survey of England 2016 shows that more than 534,000 people in the most deprived areas missed out on help for tasks such as going to the toilet and getting out of bed — which is 110,696 more than in the most affluent neighbourhoods.

Social care has proved a stumbling block for Theresa May after she was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn on her manifesto pledge to increase the amount people paid towards their care — which was dubbed the “dementia tax” by critics. A long-awaited overhaul of social care funding has also been delayed after first Secretary of State Damian Green quietly released a statement deferring the publication of a green paper until summer 2018.

Local authorities condemned the lack of funding for adult social care in last month’s Budget, as they predict a £2.3 billion funding gap by 2020

Izzi Seccombe, Tory chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Social care need is greater in more deprived areas and this, in turn, places those councils under significant financial pressures.

“Allowing councils to increase council tax to pay for social care, while helpful in some areas, is of limited use in poorer areas because their weaker tax base means they are less able to raise funds.

“In more deprived areas there is also likely to be a higher number of people who rely on councils to pay for their care. This, in turn, puts even more pressure on the local authority t.