Crisis existed before latest round of cuts

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CARE and support for people in later life had reached crisis point even before this year’s swingeing cuts, according to a report by the charity Age UK.

The Care in Crisis report found that the gap in social care funding had “led to a reduction in service provision, increasing charges levied by councils for their services and less older people receiving the support they need”.

It said the care costs were rising and the elderly population increasing as people live longer, yet total spending had decreased in real terms. Today, two million older people in England need care, of which about 800,000 receive no formal support.

The number going without care indicates the growing problem of service provision cuts. In 2009-10, the hours of support purchased by councils for older people fell from two million to 1.85 million.

For those who qualify, higher charges are levied. Each older person using council care services had to pay £150 more a year in real terms in 2010-11 than in 2009-10, and £360 more than in 2008-09.

Age UK director Michelle Mitchell said the analysis showed the care system was “on the verge of collapse”, adding: “Too many people rely on the care system on a daily basis for it to be kicked into the long grass and sidelined as too ‘difficult’ or ‘costly’ to fix.”