Warning over care for future elderly

Thousands of East Anglian pensioners will not get the care they expect in old age, facing the grim prospect of footing hefty bills to pay for vital services, officials have warned.

Thousands of East Anglian pensioners will not get the care they expect in old age, facing the grim prospect of footing hefty bills to pay for vital services, officials have warned.

A report commissioned by the Local Government Association reveals a “startling gulf” between people's expected level of service from their council and the reality they will face in old age.

The survey shows that nine out of 10 adults want subsidised care from their council in old age - at a time when government funding to meet the needs of a growing elderly population is expected to dwindle from 2009.

Last night Age Concern and Norfolk County Council called for an immediate debate to raise people's awareness about the impact of government funding cuts on services.

“This is a very serious problem which is going to get worse and not many people are aware of it,” said Linda Gill, information and advice manger at Age Concern Norfolk.

“There has to be an urgent debate to raise awareness not just with elderly people, but also with men and women who are in their 40s or 50s now and who are not thinking about provisions for old age. They have to know what lies ahead of them,” she added.

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There are 174,000 over 65s living in Norfolk of which 25,400 receive subsidised care. The number of elderly people is projected to increase to 187,750 by 2010, and the county council expects the number receiving subsidised care to increase proportionally.

However, despite the ageing population, government funding for essential services such as shopping, cleaning, bathing will drop to 3.45pc by 2009 and to 3.4pc by 2010/11.

“This is a real issue for Norfolk,” said Chris Mowle, county cabinet member for adult social services. “We have an ever-growing older population as people live longer and in order for them to live well they will need more services. The government has just announced how much money councils will get next year and from Norfolk's point of view this was a bad settlement.”

He said the authority was at the bottom of the league table of all county councils when it comes to the allocation of overall grants. A survey last year showed that the county was underfunded by £21m.

The LGA-commissioned MORI poll interviewed 956 adults across England and Wales, following the release of the Comprehensive Spending Review at the beginning of October.

Only five per cent of respondents across the country said they would expect to pay for all their basic care even though, closer inspection of the figures published in this year's Spending Review social care budget increases have failed to keep pace with demographic changes.

Last night Sir Simon Milton, chairman of the LGA said: “There is a startling gulf between the type of care they expect when they reach old age and the reality of what they will receive. A poor funding settlement, an ageing population and a lack of progress on any long term solution to the financial pressures on social services that local government will face a situation, by as early as 2009, where it cannot afford to provide service thousands of vulnerable old people.”

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