Councils planning sharp rise in care home fees

Councils are planning a sharp rise in care home fees to counter Government cuts and a rapidly aging population.
Councils planning sharp rise in care home feesAlmost nine out of 10 local authorities confirmed proposals to charge more for residential accommodation to plug a huge budget shortfall, figures show.

Other councils are planning to shut centres altogether or dramatically tighten up the eligibility for places over coming years.

The disclosure will fuel warnings over a crisis in care for the elderly.

It follows warnings last year that growing numbers of pensioners are being forced to sell their homes to cover expensive care home fees amid spiralling costs.

Emily Thornberry, the shadow care services minister, who obtained the latest figures, said the Government was failing to protect social care. Miss Thornberry’s office surveyed 50 councils providing care services.

Almost all said they were being forced to make sweeping changes to residential accommodation because of a combination of cuts and increasing pressure on services.

Some 88 per cent confirmed plans to increase care charges. A quarter of these were pegging increases to inflation, but others were introducing new and additional charges, raising or abolishing the maximum contribution from users or making other increases.

Almost two-thirds of councils said they were being forced to close care homes or day centres to save money.

Many confirmed plans to close homes in the next two years, while others said money was being saved by putting more emphasis on providing services in residents’ own homes.

A previous survey carried out by the Care and Support Alliance, whose members including more than 40 leading charities, has found that 23 per cent of disabled and older people have already seen their services cut.

Many said they can no longer afford essentials such as food and heating as a result of having to pay for care, while more than half said their health had suffered after support was reduced.

Paul Burstow, Minister of State for Care Services, said: “Under Labour social care was always the poor relation. Under the Coalition social care is receiving a £2bn spending boost including an unprecedented transfer of funds from the NHS to support integration.

“In 13 years Labour failed to reform the way we fund social care. Labour’s survey results are the product of that failure. Without the Coalition’s decision to priorities social care Labour’s legacy of underfunding would have been even greater.

“We are determined to put in place a lasting and fair settlement to the funding question. This Government has acted quickly to set up the Dilnot Commission on funding.”


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