Government is warned: invest in older people's care or condemn thousands - major organisations call for action by the Chancellor

Writing today to the Chancellor Gordon Brown, a coalition of independent think-tanks, charities and social care organisations have expressed concern that social care will receive a poor financial settlement in next summer's long-term review of government expenditure.

Although the signatories acknowledge the pressures on spending, they warn that the current social care system is unsustainable and needs further investment if it is to move beyond 'rationing intensive social care support'.

The letter welcomes assurances in the Pre-Budget Report that the government will assess recent proposals from The King's Fund and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of its long-term vision for social care in the Comprehensive Spending Review. But the signatories warn the situation in social care is worsening year-on-year as eligibility for support is restricted to the point where already only those in severe need are likely to receive help.

They argue that investing in older people's care will yield financial as well as social gains. They draw on evidence which suggests that investing in programmes to prevent falls reduces hospital admissions and other related costs. And they argue that targeting investment on new technology – such as telecare systems to monitor older people in their own homes – should also produce savings in health and social care.

Notes to editors: 

The letter to the Chancellor has been signed by the following:

  • Lord Best, Director, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Stephen Burke, Chief Executive, Counsel and Care
  • John Coughlan, President, Association of Directors of Social Services
  • Niall Dickson, Chief Executive, King’s Fund
  • Martin Green, Chief Executive, ECCA
  • Michael Lake, Director General, Help the Aged
  • Gordon Lishman, Director General, Age Concern England
  • Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive, Carers UK

The letter urges the Chancellor to heed the recommendations of the influential Wanless report for the King’s Fund earlier this year, Securing Good Care for Older People: Taking a long-term view, which warned that services for older people were already being pared back to worrying levels, so that “only those in severe need are likely to receive help.” 

The letter also refers to a number of immediate steps that could be taken to improve the system as outlined in two Joseph Rowntree Foundation publications, Paying for Long-term Care: Moving forward (2006) and Five Costed Reforms to Long-term Care Funding (2006) by Donald Hirsch. 

In addition, the signatories point to a recent report from the social care inspectorate (CSCI) called Time to Care? An overview of home care services for older people in England (2006), warning that current home care services are under-resourced, and that constant cost-cutting is undermining the quality of care.

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