Councils have made it harder for the elderly to stay in their own homes by increasing charges for basic support services such as shopping and laundry.
New research reveals that budget restraints mean that thousands of pensioners who need help with cleaning or feeding are no longer receiving it free.
They face a battery of tests to determine their ‘eligibility’ for care in spite of the fact that the vast majority have been paying council tax for years.
A survey to be published on Wednesday by the charity Counsel and Care will show that in the past year councils have raised the barriers even higher for those needing some domiciliary help.
Hundreds of thousands of elderly people have had their “social care” cut in the past decade.
Seven in 10 councils in England have been forced to “ration” services since Labour came to power, according to the Local Government -Association.
Most town halls now provide services – including meals-on-wheels, trips to day centres and home visits from social workers – only to pensioners with “substantial” or “critical” needs.
Lack of funding means many councils now help only those who are seriously ill or incapacitated. In some cases, pensioners have had to sell their homes to help pay for private care, or ask their families to pick up the bill.
The revelations follow last week’s admission by Ivan Lewis, the minister responsible for care services, that provision for the elderly is “one of the great challenges facing our society”. He called for “a new settlement that is fair and -sustainable”.
A spokesman for Age Concern said: “The withdrawal of social care services is having a devastating impact on the elderly. Cutting down or restricting by tightening criteria will mean people will often have to do without.”
Care for the elderly is in crisis and the system will be unable to cope with increasing demands of an ageing population, campaigners warn.
The Caring Choices coalition – a group of campaign organisations – has warned that one in five people in the UK will develop long-term care needs, and claims the current method of providing for the elderly is not sustainable.
The charities say there is not enough cash being invested in the service and not enough is being directed towards preventative care.
The King’s Fund, Help the Aged, Age Concern and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation are leading a group of 15 organisations which are hosting debates around the UK to highlight what they see as failings and to challenge government and providers to search for solutions.
The Local Government Association says council care for vulnerable old people may have to be cut.
400,000 elderly people denied help with washing, dressing and cleaning.
That’s the stark warning from the organisation that represents England’s local authorities.
The Local Government Association has told Channel 4 News that council care for vulnerable old people will have to be cut if, as some fear, Gordon Brown freezes local authority budgets.
Hospitals and health service trusts, already at financial breaking point, may be forced to take up the slack.
Care workers are too rushed to provide a quality service to hundreds of thousands of elderly Britons, a critical report by inspectors said on Wednesday.
The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) said councils should rethink how they organise care services. More resources were needed as workers were under too much time pressure to meet the needs of those they were looking after.
“Failure to listen to what people really need, and respond to this, results in missed opportunities to promote independence and to help people live full and rewarding lives,” said Denise Platt, chairman of the CSCI.