"Crisis" warning over pensioner care

PA

Government spending cuts to social care services could plunge pensioners into crisis, the head of a charity has warned.

Michelle Mitchell, director of Age UK, has spoken out that older people are "getting absolutely no support at all, or poor quality and limited support" as a result of cuts to local authority care.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Ms Mitchell cited research by the King's Fund showing that the number of older people who need significant care support but receive no assistance will reach almost 900,000 in 2012, rising to 1million by 2015. "This means people will deteriorate more quickly and go into hospital," she said.

"We have seen the rates of admissions to hospital increase over the last few months which, apart from anything else, is very expensive to have someone admitted through A&E and then kept in hospital.

"Care is in crisis and it is getting worse. We have evidence to show that local authorities have cut care for older people by 4.5% this year, and this at a time when social care is chronically underfunded anyway."

Pensioner poverty
The charity said 1.8m pensioners live beneath the poverty line, with one million of them in "severe poverty".

Ms Mitchell added: "One of the biggest worries, whether you are in poverty or whether you are managing on a very, very low income, is that the cost of living is increasing very rapidly.

"This is a story about breadline Britain and the eking out of an existence for millions of pensioners."

'No justification'
According to the Guardian, the care services minister Paul Burstow said in a statement that "there was no justification for cutting services for the vulnerable" because "the money is there".

He said the government had provided an extra £7.2 billion over four years to local councils to protect services for vulnerable people, and had invested £300,000 in a Local Government Association scheme to support Councils to "improve productivity".

He added: "The evidence is clear: the most innovative councils are protecting access to elderly care services and getting better outcomes. They are doing it by listening to carers and service users to develop new ways of working."
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