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By Debbie le Quesne

Socking truth of the cuts to social care

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Age UK has just put out some very disturbing figures relating to the care of our elderly. The hugely respected advocate of the elderly estimates that some 168,000 seniors have stopped receiving help with essential tasks.

These essential include eating, washing and getting dressed. The reason? Cuts in social care budget. On reading the Age UK findings I feel a sense of shame (don’t know why) and utter frustration.

One elderly souls passed comment: “It’s becoming like it was in the war . . .” and perhaps she is right.

We have a government policy to enhance living ability in the home for elderly people, but it appears the very support they need to do that is being denied.

The charity laments the “distressing human cost” involved. Indeed, the burden on families is become much greater but often the changing structures of family make it very difficult to contribute in a sustained way.

In note that the dwindling availability of social care has been going on since 2005-06, when Labour was in power, but has increased with deep coalition cuts to the budgets of England’s 152 local councils, Age UK found in its Care in Crisis 2014 report, which is based on official figures.

I quote The Guardian: “In 2010-11, a total of 1,064,475 people aged 65 or over received some form of social care services in England. That number fell by 73,000 the following year, and another 95,000 in 2012-13 to a total of 896,000 – which is 168,000 (15.8%) fewer than in 2010-11, one in six of all those who were helped in that year.

“A total of 1.231 million people received help from social care services in 2005-06 – so that number has fallen by 335,000 in seven years.

“The deterioration in social care has come despite the fact that the number of pensioners rose by more than a million between 2005-06 and 2012-13 and number of over-85s by 30% during that time.”

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director calls the situation “catastrophic”.

I regard Ague UK as a very measured organisation. They are not a charity that seeks sensationalism from the red tops, so Abrahams’ response to the figures is alarming in its own right.

Listen up: We are failing to deliver acceptable levels of care to those who are most vulnerable. I don’t care which political party is to blame – I suspect all of them – but the flagrant disregard of elderly people must stop.

Only three of our 152 local authorities still help those with “low” needs and only 16 offer services to those with “moderate” needs. The majority respond only to “substantial” or “critical” needs.

I would remind the care and support minister Norman Lamb that he told us that “social care is a priority for this government” and there I was thinking that constructing the HS2 rail link was the main agenda. How stupid am!

Can you tell I’m fuming? In the name of humanity, will someone please tell me where we are heading and why our MPs appear silent over such achingly sad findings?

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