With the Government’s Care Bill currently working its way through the UK parliament, a discussion paper has been published showing that over the past five years the Councils have reduced the number of people with “moderate needs” receiving Council funded care by one third. The paper, produced by the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the University of Kent and the London School of Economics, paints a dire picture of how budget cuts have squeezed Councils into cutting the number of people eligible for care.
Fair Access to Care Services guidelines were introduced in the UK in 2003 in an attempt to provide a common framework for eligibility for state funded care services across England. The guidelines introduced four categories of need – low, moderate, severe and critical. Having analysed the numbers of people receiving care at each level from 2005/6 to 2011/12 the researchers found that the number of people receiving state funded care fell significantly even as the number of people needing them increased due to factors such as demographic changes.
“Moderate need” is defined in the guidelines as primarily the inability to carry out several personal care or domestic routines, typically dressing oneself and having a wash. Other aspects include inability to sustain work, education, social support systems and relationships. With the withdrawal of care for such people they would have to fund care services privately. Perversely, one of the key aspects of the new Care Bill is to limit the lifetime expenditure on care by anyone in England to £72,000. With the local authorities broadly restricting the availability of funded care to only the severe and critical categories, the care expenses faced by the elderly and disabled have increased over the past five years making such a target ever more difficult to reach.
The researchers found that introducing a national minimum eligibility for care at the moderate need level would increase the number of eligible people by 23% with an associated cost increase of £2.2 bn in the current year.