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Care in Crisis: What’s next for social care?

The social care system in England is in crisis. For many years the system has been severely under-funded.

With more people living longer, the demand for care services increases year on year. Recent cuts to local authority budgets have had a huge impact on the care system, and we are now witnessing the devastating effect of this ever growing funding gap.

In real terms, spending on social care has fallen by around £770 million since 20101 and we have seen a steep rise in the length of time people are waiting for care home places, home care and home adaptations.

Age UK hears too many stories from older people who are unable to access the services they need, experience poor quality care or have to face alarmingly high costs to pay for their care.

Despite significant steps in the right direction – the Care Bill, a cap on care costs, and proposals to prevent and tackle abuse and neglect in health and care settings – there are still questions that must be answered. Everyone hopes the Government’s reforms will transform social care, but how much better will the new system really be? We need to know who will be eligible for care in the future and how the system will be funded.

The Government must urgently address these issues. It is our belief that unless there is sufficient funding the new system established under the Care Bill will fall far short of its aims.

Age UK wants a care system where people can access the care they need and we’ve been campaigning to make this a reality. In 2012, we identified seven building blocks needed to make the social care system work for older people. This report returns to the seven building blocks and discusses what has been addressed so far, how this will help people on the ground and what still needs to change.

The Government must recognise that although the Care Bill is a step in the right direction, it is not the end of the journey. The current uncertainty
over crucial details could hinder the progress we need to make in preparing for an ageing society. In the run up to the General Election in 2015 we hope to see all the political parties make clear commitments in their manifestos to improving the social care system so it is fit for purpose and up to the standard we should all expect in the twenty-first century.