THE “widespread and systematic underfunding” of the cost of care for pensioners in their own homes has led to a £513 million funding gap, a new report warns today.
The United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) sent Freedom of Information requests to 208 local councils to discover the extent of the deficit for 2016/17.
In England there is a black hole of £360m, in Wales it is £23m, in Scotland, £72m and in Northern Ireland it is £58m.
Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said: “The adult care system is in crisis. Spending on care is unable to cope with rising demand.
“The impact of these pressures on the system can be seen through ever-increasing delays in discharging patients from hospital, a growing workforce gap in the care sector, and most importantly, older people not getting the care they desperately need.”
More and more elderly people are relying heavily on NHS services
Underfunded homecare is an urgent situation, which must not be allowed to continue
Colin Ange of UKHCA
“We have already seen evidence of homecare providers leaving the state-funded care market, or closing their doors for good because they cannot afford to remain in business.
“Underfunded homecare is an urgent situation, which must not be allowed to continue.”
In England alone, there is a black hole of £360 million
There should also be constraints to make sure councils actually use additional funds intended for social care, to avoid the current postcode lottery and instability in local care markets.
Local authorities must also continue to make hard financial decisions which enable them to allocate a greater proportion of their income to homecare services.
Careworkers’ pay and conditions are directly affected by low rates paid by councils
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Based on ‘fair price of care’ calculations by care providers, the immediate pressures threatening the stability of the provider market could amount to at least £1.3bn.
“We also estimate that by 2019/20, a further £1.3bn will be required to deal with the additional pressures brought about by an ageing population, inflation, and the cost of paying the National Living Wage.
“Either care is properly funded or providers will pull out of council contracts or in worst case scenario go bust. The market for publicly-funded care is simply not sustainable as it stand.”