Pensioners struggling without help from family, neighbours or state.
Further cuts to care budgets will hit ageing population.
Charlie Cooper writes in The Independent regarding the country’s leading charity representing older people stating there is an ‘unacceptable level of care for 1 million elderly’ as figures reveal they now get no help at all for basic care.
Age UK said savage cuts to social care budgets under the Coalition, combined with a growing elderly population, has led to an “exponential” increase in the number of people left struggling alone.
For the first time, Age UK said, more than a million people in England have a care need – such as getting out of bed, going to the toilet, preparing food or taking medication – but receive no help from the state, self-funded care services, or from friends or family.
While the report’s findings relate to England, all parts of the UK are struggling to cope with a growing elderly population. In Scotland, care leaders last month proposed freezing NHS funding and transferring money to home care providers.
The charity said 1,004,000 people fall into this category – an increase of more than 100,000 in the past year.
The Government plans further cuts of £1.1bn to adult social care budgets for 2015/16. Care funding has already plunged by a third to £5.46bn in the past 10 years. Care leaders say it is “almost unendurable” on the frontline, where thousands of jobs have been lost and services scaled back.
The population of over 70s is set to hit nearly 7.9 million by 2020 in England alone – one million more than today. Last week, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, called for people to take greater responsibility to combat the “national shame” that one in 10 elderly people have contact with family less than once a month.
But Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, said that while culture change is needed, the “immediate problem” had been caused by the Governments cuts. “To have to struggle alone is unfair on these older people and also unacceptable in a civilised society,” she said.
Age UK – whose analysis is based on the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing by UCL, the University of Manchester, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and NatCen Social Research – also said annual emergency admissions to hospital for over-65s have risen by 400.,000 in a decade, suggesting cuts to social care may be increasing pressure on the NHS.