From the TUC

Cuts Watch #260: Impact of cuts on older people

28 Sep 2010, by in Cuts Watch

The Coalition Government claim that the most vulnerable will be protected by the cuts they are announcing; however the reality is that the cuts are impacting hard on vulnerable groups.

Older people are expressing real concerns about the impact of the cuts – as we have previously reported seventy per cent of over-65s think that the elderly will be hardest hit by the cuts, with 69 per cent expecting local authorities to cut funding for personal and nursing care. The survey also revealed that 45 per cent thought cuts would increase the likelihood of people having to sell their homes to pay for care. ACEVO (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) have also recently released the results of a poll showing that 78 per cent of members of the public are worried about “how cuts to essential services will affect the most vulnerable members of society.”

And cuts are also affecting services. Counsel and Care (the charity for social care for older people) have published the results of a survey of 56 local authorities’ care budgets. Over half the local authorities said they would be cutting their social care budgets or reducing the range of services available; six said they were considering increases in charges for home care and another four were consulting on raising charges. Stephen Burke, Chief Executive said: “Counsel and Care is extremely concerned about the knock-on effects such increases in charges will have on the quality of life for older people and their carers…If these short-sighted plans are put into action, the impact will be felt first by the most vulnerable, who will have to go without vital care and support and then on acute health services as people are forced to reach crisis point before they get help.”

Channel 4 Cuts Check has documented the extent of cuts to adult social care that are starting to take place across England.

In addition research by the National Housing Federation shows that cuts of 40 per cent to the Communities and Local Government funded Supporting People programme, which funds thousands of specialist housing-related services for vulnerable people via local authorities, could lead to the loss of home-based support for 326,000 older owner-occupiers and pensioners living in sheltered accommodation.

Cuts in services affecting the elderly are also taking place as a result of the cuts made in the Area Based Grants (ABGs) local authorities receive from Government.  As part of the £6.2 billion in year cuts announced by the coalition Government on the 24th of May, £1.166bn is being cut in local government spending through reductions in individual grants given to local authorities. Grants to local government which are affected include: Area Based Grants; special revenue and capital grants; and specific one off grants.

The impact that reductions in ABGs have had on services for the elderly can be seen by looking at just one city- Liverpool , where the following cuts have been made:

Liveability prevention delivery 50+, a nurse led service based at a Health Centre offering health screening and support for older people to optimise their health and follow a six week programme of activities. All programme funding (£375,000) has now been cut.

Staying Put in your Neighbourhood, a project that aims to provide older people with a service to ensure their homes are safe and secure and reduce the risk of the person becoming unfit, unhealthy or suffering falls. The service offers practical support through a range of services including household repairs and security measures. The programme has now been cut by £7,000; the original allocation was £77,000. 

New Beginnings, a project that offers a variety of services to support vulnerable and elderly residents. The aim of the project is keep people independent and in their own homes and this is accomplished through a number of different ways. The programme has now been cut by £26,000; the original allocation was £130,000. 

Older People Health Improvement, a project that aimed to help older people to remain safely in their homes as active and contributing members of the community by limiting trips and falls and reducing the need to undertake physically challenging tasks. The programme has now been cut by £20,000; the original allocation was £100,000. 

Physical Activity Infrastructure funding which contributes to the Council’s support for Future and Senior Lifestyles programmes. Senior Lifestyles offers free access to leisure facilities for all Liverpool residents who are over the age of 60. The total allocation of programme £643,000, and the reduction is £300,000.

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