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Middle-class pay 41 per cent more for care homes as crisis revealed

How middle-class pay 41 per cent more for care homes as the ‘frightening’ extent of the crisis is revealed in stealth tax for patients

    The full ‘frightening’ extent of the social care crisis was laid bare last night – with the middle classes facing a stealth tax on their care home bills.

    A damning report by Age UK reveals that those who fund their own care home fees are paying 41 per cent more than councils fork out for those who get free places.

    This premium costs middle-class families an extra £238 a week, or £12,000 a year.

    The Daily Mail has been highlighting the scandal of England’s broken care system, which sees people having to pay the full cost of their care down to their last £23,250 – including the value of the family home. Those who have not carefully put away money get free care courtesy of their local council.

    The crisis has been worsened by some areas losing more than half of their nursing home beds in the past two years, while a desperate shortage of home-helps means the total amount of home care delivered has plummeted by three million hours in three years.

    Senior woman eats lunch at retirement home (stock)

    The shortages have left 1.4million struggling without the help they need – an astounding 1 in 7 of those aged over 65 – including 300,000 who need help washing and going to the toilet.

    Age UK called on Sajid Javid to use next week’s spending review to plough hundreds of millions into social care to avert the risk of complete ‘collapse’ in the worst-affected districts.

    The charity said spending per head on the elderly has fallen by a sixth in real terms since 2010.

    Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘Our new report paints a frightening picture of where our social care system is heading unless the Government intervenes quickly and decisively to arrest its spiralling decline.

    ‘Demand is going up but funding and supply are going down, leaving increasing numbers of older people to fend for themselves, rely on loved ones if that’s an option for them, or pay through the nose via a hefty stealth tax without which many care homes wouldn’t stay afloat.

    ‘Things are so bad in some places that it is becoming impossible to source care, however much money you have.

    ‘Certainly, the idea that there will always be a care home or home care agency able to help you in your neighbourhood is increasingly out of date.’

    She added: ‘There are genuine worries that as we look into next year we are seeing the prospect of total system collapse in worst-affected areas. This is why we are calling on the Chancellor to give local authorities a significant sum to invest in social care next week.

    ‘This is not a substitute for the long-term plan and sustainable funding model social care badly needs, but it is the essential first step that millions of older people simply cannot do without.’

    Age UK’s report found the system is under extreme duress.

    It revealed that the total amount of home care delivered has gone down by 3million hours between 2015 and 2018 while the worst-hit local authority lost 58 per cent of its nursing home beds between 2016 and last year. In 2018 alone, social services directors in 58 local authorities reported at least one care home closure, and nearly a third reported seeing home care providers cease trading.

    Smiling nurse and old female patient at private nursing home (stock)

    At the same time, the social care workforce is experiencing chronically high turnover, put at 30.7 per cent each year.

    In 2016, nearly one in eight people aged over 65 were estimated to be struggling without all the help they needed to carry out at least one essential ‘activity of daily living’.

    By 2018 this had increased to one in seven – or 1.4 million – older people, of whom 300,000 are estimated to need help with three or more activities such as getting out of bed, washing and going to the toilet.

    Figures show that social care funding has plunged in less than a decade. In 2017/18 total net expenditure on adult social care from local authority funds was £15.5billion – an 8 per cent reduction since 2010/11.

    This fall has resulted in an increased reliance on money re-directed from the NHS as well as on greater means-tested contributions from older people and their families.

    As a result, care homes charge the middle classes more to prevent them going bankrupt. On average, care home fees for an older person who is funding their own care are 41 per cent higher than their town hall has to find if they are paying for a placement.

    Almost 300,000 have signed the Mail’s petition calling for reforms to end the scandal of families having to sell their homes to fund care. This newspaper is calling for an end to the ‘double subsidy’ which sees care homes charge a higher rate for private residents. 

    • You can help send a message: Sign our petition change.org/dementiacare

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