Over 1.4 million requests for care from older people have been turned down in England since Boris Johnson promised to fix social care in his opening address as Prime Minister, Age UK has said.
According to the charity’s analysis of NHS Digital data, this equates to nearly 14,000 over 65s a week not getting the care and support they believe they need.
In just under a quarter (24%) of cases, an older person was found by their local council not to meet the eligibility criteria set for the social care system, and in 26% of cases, they were referred to other services, including their local Age UK, after being found ineligible.
Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “Two years after he made his historic promise it’s high time the Prime Minister followed through, and more than four in five of the English public agrees. I can certainly assure you that Age UK and other like-minded charities will be working hard to ensure the government doesn’t forget the commitment it has made. Fulfilling it would make such a huge difference to today’s older people, and to all of us tomorrow too.”
Age UK marked the second anniversary of the Prime Minister’s time in office by urging him, in a letter, to fulfil his promise to fix social care “once and for all”, and handing it in to 10 Downing Street last week.
This followed a poll recently carried out by YouGov for 76 charities, which found that more than four in five (83%) of people want the Prime Minister to fulfil his pledge to “fix social care, once and for all”.
Meanwhile, research by ADASS has found that the COVID pandemic has created an “avalanche” of demand for social care, with nearly 55,000 older people and disabled adults waiting for an assessment of their needs.
The PM was expected to make an announcement about his plans for social care reform last week, but proposals are now not expected until the autumn.
Abrahams said: “After all the recent media stories suggesting that the Government wanted to make an announcement about its social care proposals before recess it is very disappointing to have been let down once again. The fact that we all now thoroughly used to being led down the garden path doesn’t make this latest disappointment any easier, especially when we consider the damaging impact on older people and their loved ones.
“These constant Government delays carry a cost, and our new statistics show it is one paid above all by people who need care, vast numbers of whom are turned away when they approach their council for help. It’s easy to blame local authorities when this happens, but the responsibility lies squarely with central Government. Councils can only provide a person with care when they have the funding to do so, and when enough care staff can be sourced locally by care agencies to deliver it. Both are now in increasing short supply in many places, making it harder than ever for older people to get the support they badly need.”
A national campaign that urges the Prime Minister to honour his pledge to fix social care is gaining public support, with more than four in five people calling for systemic reform.