Think-tank warns of 'bleak' future for adult social care
The future of adult social care looks bleak, a leading think-tank has warned as it said not enough money is being spent on the sector.
Despite a pledge from the Chancellor that social care could expect a cash boost through local authorities raising their council tax, the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) warned this will not be enough to meet the needs of a growing older population.
Around one in five people aged 50 or over live on their own in England, an ILC-UK study found.
The research, supported by Age UK, also claimed data from 326 local authorities shows those council areas in which most older people and unpaid carers live will be the ones to bring in the least money from George Osborne's tax rise plan.
The 2% hike was announced as part of a £3.5 billion investment package for adult social care, but in its report entitled The End of Formal Adult Social Care, the ILC-UK said it feels it is "highly unlikely" this will come to pass.
Ben Franklin, head of economics of an ageing society at ILC-UK, said: " The future for adult social care looks bleak.
"The social care settlement will be insufficient to meet the growing care needs of an ageing population and does little more than paper over the cracks which many of those who are in need of care are already falling through."
The report warns of a "polarisation" of care in future, with one section who can afford private formal care and another relying on family or other informal care.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said the findings should be a wake-up call, and she added that women could be most affected by the " dismantling (of) our system of social care".
She said: "This report reinforces the consensus among experts that the measures the Government announced in the Spending Review will not be enough to arrest the further decline of social care in this country.
"As such it is a wake-up call for the public, women especially, because they make up most family carers.
"Over the last 20 years, the need to provide a system of childcare has been first recognised and then at least partially met, in order to enable more women to work and support decent family incomes.
"Now many of those same women, or sometimes their mothers, could find they have to leave work to care for their own ageing parents, because we are effectively dismantling our system of social care.
"This is the wrong political and economic choice and it will hurt older people and their families."
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "We have given local authorities access to an extra £3.5 billion in social care to ensure they can support older and vulnerable people in their area.
"In particular, the increased and improved Better Care Fund will offer support to councils with greater demands for their social care services, on top of the funds they raise through the precept.
"We will continue to work with the care sector to help it to provide quality care for older and vulnerable people."