Updated: Friday, 13th December 2019 @ 7:14am

Charity director slams chancellor’s Budget reforms amid ‘spiralling crisis’ of Manchester social care

Charity director slams chancellor’s Budget reforms amid ‘spiralling crisis’ of Manchester social care

By Pippa Field, James Scott & Sam Richardson

George Osborne’s Budget attempt to reach out to vulnerable pensioners was met with disdain by many in Manchester who claim it ignored the chronic under-funding of social care.

Speaking in front of a rowdy House of Commons, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed the government’s plans to cap the long-term care cost at £72,000 from 2016.

But Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK – one of the largest support groups for the elderly across Greater Manchester – argued the reforms fell well short of current requirements.

“We welcome the earlier implementation of the care costs cap and the higher upper means test threshold,” she said.

“But this will do nothing to help the 800,000 older people who need help with everyday tasks but receive no formal state support.

“Since this Government came to power, in real terms £700 million has been cut from social care spending, mostly as a consequence of the slashing of local authorities’ budgets.

“The future of social care is one of the most important issues facing the country.

“The Government must urgently address the spiralling crisis in social care by ensuring that every older person gets the help that they need when they need it.”

The £72,000 cap, initially proposed for 2017, would be the amount an individual would need to contribute, after which any care costs would be free for life.

This was initially announced in Parliament by health secretary Jeremy Hunt last month, but Mr Osborne decided to reduce this further by £3,000 in the Budget.

Prior to this year there had not been any such capped legislation in place.

However with the caps not including costs of accommodation and food, the announcements to help the elderly were also questioned by Bupa Care Services.

“This announcement is a step in the right direction and will help some people to plan for old age,” said a spokesman for the nationwide healthcare specialist.  

“But while some of it is welcome we do have reservations, remember the cap will only cover the ‘care’ element of costs and people will continue to have to pay the ‘hotel’ element.

“Over 70% of people in care homes are state-funded and the fees being paid by local councils are not keeping pace with increases in the costs faced by care homes.

“The proposals do not help to address the overall funding crisis in aged care.”

Bolton Councillor Andy Morgan, deputy leader of the borough’s Conservative group and owner of The Bakewells care home, also suggested the cuts were not beneficial to everyone.

“It’s obviously very positive for people paying privately – with the average care home costing £25,000 a year,” he said.

“But it’s slightly unfair for the people who have saved up to get the same treatment as people who haven’t been saving.

“There should be a balance.”

Meanwhile in further savings aimed at the elderly, Osborne announced a single flat-rate pension of £144 a year – also brought forward from 2017.  

Designed to begin from April 2016, pensioners will be an estimated £9 a week better off than they would have been under the old system.

Picture courtesy of ell brown, via Flickr, with thanks.

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