Commenting on this week's court cases in which at least two local authorities have been told that cutting of freezing fees to cover the cost of social care for the elderly and disabled is unlawful, Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of over-50s group Saga, said:
"Until the Government properly recognizes the need to fund social care properly, these challenges will keep coming and local authorities will remain under pressure. Consider this: A hospital bed costs around £2,000 a week. A week's social care whether in a care home or domiciliary costs between £400 and £700 depending upon needs and location.
"We have to take a step back and consider the bigger picture: in the space of just a few days a number of local authorities have been told that cutting or freezing budgets to spend on the most vulnerable in our society is unlawful. This leaves all councils with a huge problem and will potentially leave local authority budgets in chaos. The local authorities have been forced into this position because of cutbacks and austerity measures - they are in a very difficult position; but the victims are the people who are least able to fend for themselves. This, now bearing in mind we are aware of further impending legal challenges and court cases of this nature surely sends a signal to government and policymakers that the social care funding issue needs to move swiftly to the top of the agenda."
"The cases and judgments this week are individual victories, but they are also precedents for other claims and challenges. That means there is now every danger that the social care and legal systems could well be swamped with costly and time-consuming claims and challenges. The key is unlocking and unblocking the social care system with proper investment and commitment, releasing NHS beds by taking the elderly and vulnerable out of hospitals and back into the community, and saving billions of pounds. The sooner we grasp this nettle with proper radical reform, the better. Social care must be valued more highly - since it can be just as life-threatening to withhold social care from those who need it, as it would be to withhold medical care."
For further information:
Contact: Dr. Ros Altmann - 07545 504 513 or Saga Press Office 01303 771529.