Budget cuts have created a “two-tier system” in elderly care homes, with the vast majority of council-funded providers saying they are not paid enough to deliver the quality of service the public wants, according to a Labour survey.
Some 98 per cent of residential home care providers in England said the fees paid by councils are too low to meet public expectations of quality.
And 92 per cent said this is resulting in a two-tier market, with investment directed at wealthier areas of the country where more elderly people are able to pay for their own care.
Labour’s survey suggested that average funding from local council fees dropped by 0.1 per cent in cash terms between 2009/10 and 2011/12 – equating to a “significant real-terms cut” once inflation is taken into account.
As a result, the survey found that 82 per cent of residential care providers said they were charging self-payers more to cross-subsidise those funded by the council, 60 per cent said they were reducing beds for council-funded residents, and 70 per cent said they were holding back on investing in facilities.
Labour care and older people spokeswoman Liz Kendall said: “This survey provides yet more evidence that our care system is in crisis. More than £1bn has been cut from local council budgets for older people’s social care since the Tory-led Government came to power.
“Councils are being forced to pass on these cuts to care providers. This is having a devastating effect, with some of the most vulnerable people in society facing a two-tier service or being forced to pay more for care they desperately need.
“The Prime Minister must act urgently to tackle the care crisis. Labour is calling for legislation in this Parliament on a new system for funding social care.”
But a Department of Health spokesman responded: “The Government has provided enough for councils to maintain the current levels of access and eligibility for care home residents.
“In the Spending Review, the Government recognised the pressures on the adult social care system, and took the decision to prioritise adult social care by allocating an additional £7.2bn up to 2014/15. Ultimately the amount of money and where councils allocate their funding on social care is decided by them.”