Thousands of older people have seen their life savings ‘wiped out’ through paying for their own care in the last year alone, according to a leading charity.
New figures released today (24 July) by Age UK estimate that people who have to buy their own care spent more than £7 billion in the 12 months since prime minister Boris Johnson took office.
Speaking in Downing Street last year, Mr Johnson pledged to ‘fix social care’, but a year on, the charity estimates that 14 people a day are still being ‘wiped out’ financially through paying for their own care.
In England, the charity estimates 167,000 older people and their families now have to fund their own care.
The figures come at the same time as the charity stages a ‘virtual hand in’ of its petition calling on the government to stand by its commitment to fix social care and make it free at the point of use, fair and available for everyone who needs it.
The petition was signed by 109,306 people before the pandemic struck.
Age UK is calling on the government to resolve the severe underfunding that afflicted social care even before the pandemic arrived and which meant it was in no position to stand up to Covid-19 when it struck.
‘Chronic underfunding put social care on its knees before Covid-19 came roaring in so it was in no position to withstand the battering the virus dealt out,’ said Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams.
‘Tragically, there have been an estimated 30,000 excess deaths of older people living in care homes during the pandemic, a shocking number that shames us all.
‘When he became prime minister, Boris Johnson promised to fix social care and make sure no one would have to sell their home to pay for it. Now, after all the loss and suffering caused by the pandemic it is more important than ever that he follows through.’
The vice chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, Cllr Paulette Hamilton, said: ‘Coronavirus has raised the profile and value of social care in its own right and we have been calling for a sustainable funding settlement for adult social care, since long before the current crisis.
‘Part of this solution needs to consider how best to address the recognised need for greater fairness in how care is paid for and funded. We look forward to when the cross-party talks on the future of social care finally begin.’
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