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23 November, 2020 Open access

One in seven older people have had social care support reduced or withdrawn since start of COVID-19 pandemic

Age UK says that social care was grossly underfunded before the pandemic and while the government’s emergency injection of funds has helped, it has simply not been enough

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, 210,000 people over the age of 65 in England - one in seven of older people receiving care before the pandemic - have seen a reduction in the care they have received, according to new Age UK estimates.

Based on analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, Age UK finds that of the 1.4 million people over 65 in England who were receiving care before the pandemic started,15 per cent (one in seven) have faced care cuts of which -

Age UK says these figures should also be viewed in the context of the significant number of over 65s in England who have care needs that are not always being met - estimated as one million (38 per cent) of the 2.7 million older population.

In addition, Age UK presents findings from recent polling of more than 1,000 older people on how the pandemic is impacting on their ability to manage daily living activities, that include that -

Considering the two sets of findings together, the charity warns that while there is an increasing need for social care during the pandemic,  worryingly fewer older people are actually receiving the help they need.

Commenting on the research and the need for greater action from government, Age UK’s Charity Director Caroline Abrahams said today -

‘The fact is that social care was in no position to withstand the battering it has received from COVID-19 and, despite everyone’s best efforts, the system is struggling to respond. Social care was grossly underfunded before the pandemic and the Government’s emergency injection of funds helped but was simply not enough. As a result, social care staff and the services they deliver are being stretched appallingly thin and, as ever, older and disabled people, and their families, are being left to pay the price. 

The Government keeps saying it is committed to ‘fixing social care’ but every day it seems they announce new money for one highly deserving initiative or another - and care always misses out. After the tens of thousands of deaths in care homes during the first wave it’s only right that this vital public service gets the financial support it requires. If not now, when? 

As an institution the Treasury has the reputation for turning a deaf ear to any and every call to put more money into social care, but this Spending Review is Chancellor Sunak’s opportunity to show he is bigger and better than that. We are calling on him to invest several extra billion into social care right now, and to give us all hope that later this year, the Government really will issue a funded plan for transforming social care for the better, once and for all.’

For more information, see New Age UK research estimates that one in seven older people have had care reduced from ageuk.org.uk