Sunday, November 6, 2011

Misery for millions as elderly care funds cut

Millions of elderly people are facing a “care crisis” after figures disclosed that government funding for nursing homes and support for frail pensioners has been cut by almost a fifth.

More than £1.3 billion has been removed from councils’ annual spending on help for the over-65s since the Coalition came to power, House of Commons analysis found.

Most councils are increasing the fees they charge families for home help and meals on wheels as they attempt to plug the funding gap left by Treasury cuts, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

Campaigners for the elderly warned that more pensioners would be condemned to long stays in hospital wards and that people would be forced to give up work to look after their parents.

Ministers said there was “no excuse” for councils to target the elderly to balance their budgets, but Labour attacked the Coalition for failing to protect the most vulnerable adults in society.

The Government is considering plans to overhaul funding for care home places and home help services, which it hopes can protect pensioners from being forced to sell their homes to cover the cost of support. Cross-party talks are being held in an attempt to reach a consensus on social care funding and a White Paper setting out the Coalition’s plans is due to be published in the spring. more