It’s time to say “No” to any more cuts to older people’s social care services. Local authorities need to make spending cuts from somewhere, but maintaining frontline older people’s services needs to be a priority in 2012-13. There is no slack in the system, many older people already get pooor quality care services and any further cuts could harm vulnerable older people.
That’s what Age UK London and Greater London Forum for Older People have found anyway. We have just launched our research report, ‘Don’t cut care in London’, looking at the impact of the cuts so far and the possible impact in the future. You can download our report from www.ageuk.org.uk/london
Older people’s care budgets have shrunk by 3.4 per cent across London since financial year 2009-10 (it would have been 7.4 per cent without a transfer of £99.85m from the NHS budget this year), while the costs of care provision in London are thought to have risen by above inflation. The picture varies widely between boroughs and there is no obvious pattern in terms of Inner or Outer London, socio-economic deprivation levels etc. What else could account for the differences?
We know that there isn’t an automatic relationship between the size of a financial spending cut and the effect on frontline services. It would be really interesting to hear how well or badly you think services in your London borough have coped with the cuts.
As care budgets shrink, we can see an increase in social isolation coming. Preventive services like handyperson schemes, befriending, welfare benefits advice and advocacy, as well as day centres and resource centres, help people stay active and be part of the community and cutting them looks like a false economy in the longer run. We aim to keep monitoring the impact of care cuts both on older people and other services.
How all of this works out depends on political and funding decisions locally and nationally – we need positive reform of the care funding system. It also depends on practitioners working together to develop new thinking and new service models to support older people.
Watch this space because we’re going to hear a lot more about care in the near future.