Social care buckling in Wigan as OAP numbers rise

The rising number of older people needing support and an increase in costs is putting strain on the social care system in Wigan, figures suggest.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 2:34 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 2:36 pm
The average weekly cost for residential or nursing care for over-65s rose to £567

Care groups hit out at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s failure to detail long-promised social care reforms in the recent Queen’s Speech.

NHS Digital data shows there were around 6,180 new requests for local authority support for people aged 65 and over in Wigan in 2019-20 – the equivalent of 119 every week.

That was up by 17 per cent compared to three years earlier, when there were 5,300 new requests, although only 11 months’ worth of data was provided by the council that year.

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Over the same period, the average weekly cost of residential or nursing care for over-65s rose to £567 – meaning a care home place cost roughly £3,700 more per year in 2019-20 than in 2016-17, after adjusting for inflation.

Overall, the council in Wigan spent £45.3m on care for older people in 2019-20, including income from people paying towards their own care, and other organisations.

Currently, anyone with assets or savings worth £23,250 or more has to pay the full cost of their care. People with less than that, but more than £14,250, have to pay a contribution to care costs, while the council will cover the full bill if someone’s capital falls below this threshold.

In 2019-20, 5,600 over-65s who requested local authority support last year were classified as “self-funders with depleted funds” – those who had exhausted their assets paying for care.

Although the Queen confirmed proposals for social care reform will be brought forward as she set out the Government’s legislative agenda, no further detail was given.

Prof Martin Green, chief executive of the provider membership organisation Care England, said it was “a missed opportunity”.

“Without the much-needed, not to mention heralded, reform it is questionable as to how much longer the sector can be expected to limp on,” he said. “A sector that supports and employs vast swathes of the population cannot be ignored.”

Chairman of the Independent Care Group Mike Padgham said older and vulnerable people have been betrayed and reform has been “pushed down the road”.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman previously said: “Improving the adult social care system remains a priority for this government and we will bring forward proposals later this year to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”

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