Elderly care crisis claims a million family homesPosted on:
Care Home Funding Advocates is following the story in todays Telegraph;
More than one million families have been forced to sell their home in just five years to meet the cost of paying for residential care, new figures have revealed.
The estimate, based on polling measuring families’ individual experiences, is far higher than Government projections have previously suggested.
But charities and pensions experts said it represented one of the first realistic attempts to quantify the scale of the hidden care funding crisis in the UK.
And they claimed that it showed that the Government’s long-awaited overhaul of the social care system in England – including the introduction of a cap on bills – does not go far or fast enough to address the crisis thousands of families are facing.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, described the figure as “concerning” but insisted that it served to underline the need for the Government’s reforms.
The estimate, in research by the insurance company NFU Mutual, comes less than a fortnight after a separate study found that another two million people – or a quarter of retired home owners – are already actively planning to sell their home to fund their old age.
The new research, including polling by ICM commissioned by NFU Mutual, also concludes that as many as three quarters of people who go into residential care in old age might eventually have to sell their home to pay for it.
And it warns that millions of younger people who are currently relying on an inheritance to fund their own retirement could be facing serious financial problems if they do not make alternative plans urgently.
The research also highlighted how more than half of councils have been forced to cut spending on residential care in the last four years despite efforts to shield the sector from the effect of cuts in budgets across the board.
It came as the care minister, Norman Lamb, spoke about how Britain has become a “neglectful society” in which it is becoming accepted for the elderly to spend their final years in isolation because of the way families have become dispersed
He said that while the state had a vital role to play in supporting people in old age, it would never be enough unless people also “step up”, providing basic “kindness and companionship”.
Under the current system in England anyone with assets, including their home, worth more than £23,500 gets no financial support if they have to go into a care home.
The average cost of a room in a care home now stands at just over £28,000 a year but for those needing more intensive nursing care, annual bills regularly reach well over £40,000.
Sweeping reforms of the social care system, based on the landmark recommendations of a commission chaired by the economist Andrew Dilnot, are currently going through Parliament.
They will cap the amount people should have to pay for care at £72,000 – more than twice the level originally envisaged by the Dilnot Commission.
It also does not take into account what people in care will have to pay for accommodation nor any money they have paid for personal care before they were deemed frail enough for social services to step in.
Overall officials estimate that only one in eight elderly people will ever qualify for the cap.
But, crucially, under the reforms anyone faced with selling their home to pay for care will instead be able to defer the payments by effectively mortgaging their house to the state until their death.
Mr Hunt said: “This Government’s ambitious cap on care costs will make England one of the first countries in the world where people do not end up having to sell their homes to pay for care.
“These concerning figures show how much difference this plan will make to the lives of people who’ve worked hard and saved to pass on an inheritance to their children.”
But Dr Ros Altman, a pensions expert and former government policy adviser on ageing, said: “I don’t think anybody has properly woken up to the scale of the crisis that we face in social care.
“We have got a pensions crisis because we have millions of people who haven’t enough money saved for their pension – the social care crisis is far worse.
“We have tried to adopt an ostrich approach to this, burying our heads in the sand and hoping but will go away.
“Latterly the Government has tried to do something and it is starting to wake up to the scale of the problem but I don’t it has woken up to the urgency of the situation.
“We are going to have many more years of people having to find tens of thousands of pounds a year to pay for their care.
“Families have got to realise that whether or not they will inherit money might well depend on the lottery of whether they end up needing care.
“It is a lottery depending on what is wrong with you and where you live which means that you could get all of your care funded by the state or none of it and you won’t know in advance.”
Overall one in seven people polled were clinging to the belief that they will be able to supplement their pension with income from an inheritance even though that could be wiped out by care costs.
Almost a fifth of those polled said that either they or their partner’s parents had had to go into a care home – half of them in the past five years
Of those more than three quarters said that almost all of their parent’s assets, including their home, had been eaten up by care expenses.
Overall it estimated that 1.1 properties across the UK have had to be sold in the past five years to pay for care.