A new survey of local authorities, published today by Labour, reveals big increases and wide variations in council charges for home care services, which help frail and vulnerable older and disabled people get up, washed, dressed and fed.
The survey found:
The increase in home care charges means the average annual cost for an older or disabled person who pays for 10 hours home care a week has increased to £7,077 a year in 2012/13 – up over £680 since 2009/10.
Some councils limit or ‘cap’ the weekly costs people are required to pay for home care. This cap varies from £90 a week in Barnsley to £900 a week in Brighton and Hove.
Almost half of the councils who reported having a cap on home care charges in 2009/10 have now removed it. 46% have increased their cap and 6% have frozen it.
Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said:
“These increases in home care charges are a stealth tax on the most vulnerable people in society.
“Fewer older people are getting their care for free, and more older and disabled people are being forced to pay more for vital services that help them get up washed dressed and fed.
“These services are a lifeline for older and disabled people and crucial to help them stay living independently in their own homes.
“The Government is out of touch with the growing care crisis.
“They promised to protect social care services, but more than £1 billion has been cut from local council budgets for older people since the Conservative-led Government came to power.
“They also promised to legislate on a future legal and financial framework for social care in this Parliamentary session. Yet last week’s Queens Speech only committed to publishing draft legislation on reforming social care law, with no commitment to introduce a Bill on reform of care funding.
“David Cameron must act urgently to tackle the care crisis. He must engage in serious cross party talks, which Ed Miliband initiated, about how we can secure a fair and sustainable way to fund long term care in future.”