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Social care 'not fit for purpose'

The social care system has been branded “not fit for purpose” after figures revealed elderly people are paying up to £7,000 a year for home care services.

Cllr David Rogers, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, accused the government of underfunding local authorities, leaving councils with “tough decisions” over the services they can provide.

Statistics released by the Labour party showed marked rises in the cost of council services for elderly and disabled people over the past year.

Analysis of data from 93 out of 153 councils in England, showed there has been a 13 per cent rise in the cost of meals on wheels, with the price of a meal rising from £3.17 to £3.44.

There has also been a 33 per cent increase in transport fees, with the average cost of travel to places such as day care centres now standing at £2.32 per journey.

Labour said the data also revealed a “postcode lottery” in the amount people pay for social care, with huge disparities across the country.

People living in theLondon borough of Tower Hamlets pay nothing for personal care, while those in Cheshire East are charged more than £20 an hour, for example.

Cllr Rogers said: “These results highlight what we already know, the current social care system is not fit for purpose. It is underfunded and in need of urgent reform.

“We all want to know that everything possible is being done to ensure our elderly friends and relatives are treated with the dignity and respect they rightly deserve and councils are committed to doing the very best for people in later life.

“But councils are facing the long-term triple pressures of insufficient funding, growing demand and escalating costs and despite their best efforts, they are having to make tough decisions about the care services they can provide.”

The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information law, showed elderly and disabled people are being charged an averaged of £13.49 per hour for home care - a rise of 6 per cent in two years.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Much of the thrust of Healthcare reform is towards local democratic accountability. Domiciliary Care Services are either provide or commisiosned or both by LAs and therefore these services could be considered to be democratically accountable to the local population.

    A proxy for things to come in the NHS?

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  • They might be considered accountable, but they are not, especially since most of them have now been privatised and are run by cheapskate companies seeking to exploit workers on the lousiest pay and conditions, all of whioch rebound negatively on the poor consumer who is left with little if any real control or choice of what happens.
    The continued inexorable and undiscussed decline in the quality and soaring cost of social care is a little foretaste of what could yet happen to those NHS services that are squeezed out of NHS providers and handed over to "social enterprises" as a fore-runner to full privatisation.
    And just like social care, the failures from these new experiments and Andrew Lansley's privatised vision of health provision will rebound to become dependent on the remaining publicly-funded hospital services.
    It's a shambles, consciously created by Thatcher's "community care" so-called reforms after the Griffiths Report, to get elderly care off the public budget, and dump the costs onto individuals and their families -- and avoided as an issue by Blair and co, and now by Lansley and Cameron.
    And if people don't get angry and fight over it, it will get even worse with more local govt cuts, and the squeeze on NHS provision.

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  • Blair Mcpherson

    Faced with inceaseing demand from an ageing population and budget cuts LA's can replace inhouse servicses with cheaper private sector servicses, reduce services or charge more for services most are doing a combination of all three. Is this the Governments blue print for all parts of the public sector including the NHS ?

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  • John - I agree with your point in terms of LAs not providing the poorest standards of care in most cases. They do though commission it and therefore are accountable for what they commision.

    My concern though is that given the budgets locally LAs will preside over a similar dogs breakfast of commisisoning NHS services for ths bits that they commisison. For that matter will GPs be any better?

    In general we under value the Social Care workforce, pay them poorly. It is little wonder that standards are so low. It's a pity that Andy Burnham came up with his National Care Service proposal whilst his government was in its dying days as this may have been a start.

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