The Dilnot Commission and carers

Friday, 05 August 2011

The Report of the Dilnot Commission was warmly welcomed across the social care sector. The Care & Support Alliance, 51 national charities representing older and disabled people, those with long-term conditions and their families, has particularly welcomed the Commission’s call for additional funding for social care, a cap to protect against catastrophic care costs and proposals for supporting working age disabled people. The Alliance has called on the Government to set out a timetable reform and publish a White Paper on social care reform by Easter 2012 at the latest.

 

Background

 

Our population is ageing rapidly, 11 million people alive today will live to 100 [1]  and people are living far longer with illness and disability. The number of carers is expected to rise from 6.4 million in 2011 to 9 million by 2037.

 

Whilst the NHS has seen increased funding to help cope with this increase in demand, social care funding has not kept pace. Since 2004, whilst spending on the NHS has risen by £25 billion, spending on social care rose by just £43 million (0.1% per year in real terms) [2]. Chronic underfunding has contributed to significant unmet need and decreasing access to what can be poor quality services. Department of Health figures show that, over the last 4 years, demand has outstripped expenditure by around 9%.[3]

 

In the Comprehensive Spending Review the Government announced additional £2 billion in funding for social care. However, as the Commission’s report notes, wider reductions to local government funding have meant that these resources ‘have not found their way to social care budgets in some areas.[4]  As a result , long-term underfunding has been exacerbated by substantial cuts to social care services. This year:

 

§         Social Services Directors report that a total cut to adult social care of £1 billion[5]

§         Net expenditure on older people’s social care has fallen by a reported 7.1%[6]

§         Care & Support Alliance survey showed that services to 24% of disabled adults had been cut, even though their needs were the same or had increased[7].

 

In addition, the current means-test threshold means that anyone with more than £23,250 in savings, income or assets is fully liable for unlimited care costs. For someone with dementia the bill for care at home and then residential care could run to well over £100,000; and disabled people face a lifetime of high charges for care and support.


[1] Number of Future Centenarians by Age Group (2011) DWP p. 70

[2] Care in Crisis (2011) Age UK

[3] Commission analysis of Personal Social Services Expenditure and Unit Costs: England 2009 -10 – Final Council Data (2010) The Information Centre, Department of Health

[4] Fairer Care Funding (2011) The Commission on Funding of Care and Support

[5] ADASS Budget Survey 2011 (2011) The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

[6] Age UK (2011) www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-press/spending-on-older-peoples-care-to-be-cut-by-84

[7] Submission to the Dilnot Commission Call for Evidence (2011) Care and Support Alliance