Councils cut free home care for older people
The number of older people who get their care fully paid for by their local authority has dropped by 11 per cent, according to research.
Labour’s shadow minister for care Liz Kendall MP received 121 responses to a freedom of information request to 153 councils on home care charges.
As well as finding the 11 per cent drop from 2009/10 to 2011/12, she also found the average charge for an hour of home care had increased by 10 per cent between 2009/10 to 2012/13 - from £12.29 to £13.61.
The increase in home care charges means the average annual cost for an older or disabled person who pays for 10 hours home care a week has increased to £7,077 a year in 2012/13 – up more than £680 since 2009/10, the research found.
Ms Kendall said: ‘These increases in home care charges are a stealth tax on the most vulnerable people in society.
‘Fewer older people are getting their care for free, and more older and disabled people are being forced to pay more for vital services that help them get up washed dressed and fed.
‘These services are a lifeline for older and disabled people and crucial to help them stay living independently in their own homes.’
The survey also revealed there were wide variations in council charges for home care depending on where people lived: home care is free in Tower Hamlets but it costs £21.50 per hour in Brighton and Hove.
Ms Kendall pointed out the government was to legislate on social care but only published draft legislation on reforming social care in the Queen’s speech last week.
There was ‘no commitment to introduce a bill on reform of care funding,’ she said.
‘David Cameron must act urgently to tackle the care crisis. He must engage in serious cross party talks, which Ed Miliband initiated, about how we can secure a fair and sustainable way to fund long term care in future.’
The report also found some councils limit or ‘cap’ the weekly costs people are required to pay for home care. This cap varies from £90 a week in Barnsley to £900 a week in Brighton and Hove.
Almost half of the councils who reported having a cap on home care charges in 2009/10 have now removed it. Forty six per cent have increased their cap and 6 per cent have frozen it.
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