Headlines: June 17th, 2009

London councils have warned that funding arrangements for caring for the elderly are not adequate and that people do not understand how social care works, nor are they planning for their own future. The warnings come with the publication of findings from a survey of people with relatives receiving social care.

The London councils spend £1.1b annually on services for 900,000 people aged over 65. In the next two decades this number is expected to increase by about one third. In addition it is expected that between 2006 and 2035 the UK’s over 85 population will double. Meeting these care needs is not sustainable with current financial arrangements.

Despite the growing financial burden, the majority of respondents clearly saw the provision and funding of social care as a state responsibility, rather than a personal one. This was also reflected in the finding that only one in 10 expressed ‘great concern’ and a further third being concerned only to some extent about meeting their own care needs.

The survey asked for views on a savings scheme to provide for future care and reduce the burden on the state. 51 per cent of respondents said that participation in a savings scheme would be encouraged by the government matching funding contributions.

The survey also revealed that four out of 10 people who have a relative with social care needs finds it difficult to know who to speak to once they are in the system, or to understand what care is free and what needs to be paid for.

The councils have called on the government to urgently investigate alternative funding models for adult social care and to provide funding for local authorities to undertake a pilot scheme which would focus on a single point of contact for social care to make navigating the system easier. They also want an awareness campaign to help people understand the need to plan for old age.