Concern at 37% rise in number of elderly facing financial ruin due to ‘sky high care fees’
Around 14 older people a day are wiped out financially by paying for their care, figures suggest, a year on from the Prime Minister’s pledge that no-one should have to sell their homes.
Some 5,190 people aged 65 and over and receiving care in England in 2018-19 were classed as “self-funders with depleted funds” – meaning they have used up almost all their savings and assets, according to NHS Digital.
This is up more than a third (37%) from the numbers classed as such during the previous year, the charity Age UK said.
In England, 167,000 older people and their families are estimated to fund their own care because they do not qualify for free or subsidised support, according to LaingBuisson.
This is the case when an individual has capital exceeding £23,250.
Based on the average self-pay fees of £851 a week, Age UK calculates that older people have spent more than £7.3 billion in the 12 months since Boris Johnson took office.
On the steps of Downing Street during his maiden speech, Mr Johnson promised to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan”.
A year later, the coronavirus crisis has laid bare the deep-rooted problems within the sector that are still to be addressed.
Age UK said older people and their families are being forced to spend “staggering amounts” for essential support in the absence of a Government-backed system where all of society shares the financial risk of future care needs.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director for Age UK, said: “Chronic underfunding put social care on its knees before Covid-19 came roaring in so it was in no position to withstand the battering the virus dealt out.”
She continued: “When he became Prime Minister, Boris Johnson promised to fix social care and make sure no-one would have to sell their home to pay for it.
“Now, after all the loss and suffering caused by the pandemic it is more important than ever that he follows through.
“With 14 people a day being ruined due to sky high care bills and self-funders spending more than £7 billion on care in a year, it’s clear that the unlucky individuals who need care face far too high a price.
“The obvious solution is for us all to share the risk of developing care needs by paying into a national fund, like we do with the NHS.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise the challenges facing the social care sector and we are doing everything we can to support it.
“We know that there is a need for a long-term solution for social care, and will bring forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing to ensure the reforms will last long into the future.”
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