'Crisis' warning over elderly care
The care of the elderly could be plunged in to "absolute crisis" by the Government's cuts, the head of a leading charity has warned.
Michelle Mitchell, director of Age UK, said reductions in council social care budgets risked leaving an increasing number of elderly people with "absolutely no support at all, or poor quality and limited support".
She said recent research by the King's Fund showed that by 2015 there were expected to be one million older people needing significant care but without assistance, up from almost 900,000 in 2012.
This could end up costing the Government more in the long run, with thousands of elderly people ending up in hospital rather than receiving care at home.
In an interview with the Guardian, Ms Mitchell said: "We have seen the rates of admissions to hospital increase over the last few months which, apart from anything else, is very expensive to have someone admitted through A&E and then kept in hospital.
"Care is in crisis and it is getting worse. We have evidence to show that local authorities have cut care for older people by 4.5% this year, and this at a time when social care is chronically underfunded anyway."
The charity says that 1.8 million pensioners live beneath the poverty line, one million of them in "severe poverty".
Ms Mitchell added: "One of the biggest worries, whether you are in poverty or whether you are managing on a very, very low income, is that the cost of living is increasing very rapidly. This is a story about breadline Britain and the eking out of an existence for millions of pensioners."