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Spending on over-65s care down 20%

Spending on care for people aged 65 and over has fallen by a fifth in England over the past 10 years, according to new analysis by the BBC.

The research found that £951 was being spent in 2013/14 per over-65, compared with £1,188 in 2003/04 - a drop of 20%.

Some of the spending, which covers everything from support provided in people's homes to round-the-clock help in care homes, is funded by local authorities, but in some cases individuals pay part or all of the bill themselves.

The BBC launched a online guide to the care system, featuring a "care calculator" showing how costs to the individual vary in different parts of the country, which showed that a week in a care home costs an average £399 in Barnsley but more than £1,000 in Kensington and Chelsea.

Using data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre on funding by councils, and Office for National Statistics population data, the BBC calculated that, after taking inflation into account, the total amount spent on care fell by 6% over the 10-year period to £8.85 billion, while the over-65 population rose by 17% to 9.3 million.

Spending per head kept pace with the growth in the elderly population for the first few years of the period, but has fallen behind over the past four years, with the biggest falls seen in the North West and Yorkshire & Humber regions, said the BBC.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We've given councils an extra £1.1 billion this year to help protect social care services on top of additional funding in recent years but ultimately they are responsible for deciding how to spend their budgets.

"From April, our Care Act and £5.3 billion Better Care Fund will focus resources on helping people to live independently, which will save councils money and improve care."

Janet Morrison, chief executive of older people's charity Independent Age, said: "These figures reveal how badly older people are being let down by our social care system but also how much this differs between regions.

"Some regions have seen cuts of 25% in spending per older person on social care while others have managed to keep the fall to 13%.

"Councils need to consider what more they can do to protect social care spending, which is essential to the quality of life of many elderly people but also has an impact on demand for local NHS services. However, ultimately the Government needs to invest more money if a reasonable level of social care is to be provided."

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