More Wigan residents are topping up cost of care

More adults receiving council-funded social care in Wigan are now forking out their own money to top up their support, new figures reveal.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 11:05 am
Pensioners watching in horror as their life savings are being eaten up

Charity Age UK has warned that older people are being left to watch in horror as their life savings are swallowed up by a care system “way past its sell-by date”.

In an annual survey of adult social care users for 2018-19, two in five respondents in Wigan (39.4%) said they or their family buy additional care privately, or pay more to the council to top up the care they receive.

This was up by 3.2% compared to five years ago, when 36.2% said they paid extra.

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Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “Too many older people and families are already struggling without the care they need, or watching with absolute horror as their lifetime savings disappear to fund sky-high care bills.

“We know that older people and their families are living in fear that they will be unable to keep up with the payments.

“With a care system under siege, this is a problem that needs solving.”

Across England, a record 37.2% of social care users now say they top-up their care – almost half of them people aged 65 and over who receive help in the community, such as home visits.

This is the highest rate since the survey began in 2010-11, and up by 0.5% in just one year.

The figures only include people who are eligible for state-funded social care.

Unlike the NHS, social care in England is means-tested, and those with savings of more than £23,500 have to pay their own way.

Colin Angel, policy director at the UK Homecare Association, said councils may be rationing the care they will fund in order to reduce costs.

He said: “The increase in additional purchase seen this year is a trend that we anticipate continuing in the absence of a long-term funding solution from Government for social care in England.”

Ian Hudspeth, from the Local Government Association, said that rising costs and demand meant councils were having to make “incredibly difficult” decisions about people’s care.

“While extra funding for social care next year is helpful, what we need is action and certainty to secure care and support for the long-term,” he added.

Overall, 66.9% of people in Wigan said they were either very or extremely satisfied with the care they received, above the national average of 64.3%.

A further 22.9% were quite satisfied, while 4.6% were dissatisfied.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care recognised there was a “crisis” in social care.

He said: “We know the system is under pressure and we have given local authorities an extra £1.5 billion next year to meet rising demand and stabilise the social care system.

“We are determined to fix the crisis in social care and will set out our proposals in due course.”