Headlines: May 14th, 2008

A local government think tank has said concerns over the future funding of social care should not be allowed to overshadow other equally important issues such as access to services and the well-being of older people. The call has come from the Local Government Information Unit, which is assisting an all-party investigation into long term care.

The LGiU’s welcomed the Government’s acknowledgement that the country is facing a six billion pound shortfall in funding for older people unless radical action is taken now. Janet Sillett, a policy analyst at LGiU’s Centre for Service Transformation said the future funding was critically important and the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was right that there were no easy answers.

“What older people and their organisations are telling us very strongly, though, is that although funding is key, the wider well-being agenda is equally important,” she added. Closing a village Post Office could reduce the independence of some older people and access to good public transport could help them lead a healthier and more interesting life.

“Investing in our communities is investing for the longer term – preventing some people from needing acute social care services. Local authorities are committed to leading on taking a holistic approach to people’s needs and aspirations. The Government’s green paper really has to consider these wider issues if it is going to deliver a transformation in all older people’s lives and in the lives of our communities,” Ms Sillett said.

The LGiU is advising the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Government which is conducing an inquiry into the long-term care and well-being of older people and looking at how the place of older people in society can be improved over the next decade with rapid demographic change, rising expectations and increasing financial constraints. The inquiry will report in July.