Headlines: December 8th, 2006



A lack of Government spending is leading to a deepening crisis in social care provision that could see almost twenty per cent of people having to take on the role of carer within the next 30 years, according to a report from the national disability charity, Vitalise, to mark Carers Rights Day. It wants to see a major review of social care provision.

In a grim warning it says the shortfall in Government spending on social services, which it estimates at 1.76 billion last year, and our ageing population, means local authorities have to severely ration social care provision and set increasingly stringent eligibility conditions for people who need support. This, the charity says, puts the responsibility for care onto partners and family members.

Today’s report underlines points made yesterday in an open letter to The Guardian by 45 local authority leaders warning that they were facing a growing crisis in care for the elderly. The Association of Directors of Social Services, in its response last week to the Star Ratings published by the Commission for Social Care Inspection, highlighted the fact that some authorities were having to increase eligibility criteria for their services because they were faced with falling budgets in real terms.

Vitalise says its own research shows that in the past year a third of disabled people have not taken a holiday, and their carers have not had a break, because of physical or financial constraints. Half of all the UK’s 8.6 million disabled people, it says are living below the poverty line and are reliant on overstretched local authority services and facing the prospect of having to pay charges for respite care.

Vitalise is calling today for a full-scale review of local authority social care provision to avert what it sees as a deepening crisis. Its Chief Executive, Pat Wallace, said, the need for more support and respite for disabled people and their carers was more urgent than ever. “The future for carers is very stark. The vast majority have a right to expect their needs to be met by local authorities, yet one in five of the population could end up losing their pension rights, their jobs, and facing a future of poverty, through having no option but to become the sole carer for a loved one,” he said.

Vitalise provides a range of community-based services and subsidised respite breaks at five centres in Cornwall, Southampton, Essex, Nottingham and Southport. They offer round the clock care-on-call and personal support and provide more than 8,000 weeks of breaks for disabled adults, children and carers every year. More details about its work are available at www.vitalise.org.uk