Press release


Monday 16 January 2012

Over-50s organisation Saga says there is no room for political points-scoring in this week’s cross-party talks on care and support. The lives of millions of older people and the future of the NHS is at stake here.

“Politicians of all parties have an historic opportunity to change the way care is funded in future, to help people stay in their own homes if they can, which is what they overwhelmingly want and to save money to the NHS by caring for them outside the most expensive hospital settings” said Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga.

“It is desperately important that MPs take the lead in telling Ministers (who have so far proved disappointingly reluctant to grasp the urgency of the issue) that proper care reform cannot wait.  There will be a White Paper in the Spring, but this must deliver a clear framework for immediate reform, with a timeline and action, not more fudge.

“Frontline care professionals are already disappointed at the delays, and we would urge whoever is chairing the meeting to stand for no nonsense, no points-scoring and no further hold-ups.

“There are mortal deadlines here, and this must not be forgotten. We are dealing with our most vulnerable citizens. 2012 must not be their year of living anxiously.

“The government needs to recognise that while they may be agonising over the cost, the reality is that people and families who need care appreciate that there’s a cost involved: but the current system is not fit for purpose.  Too much is spent via the NHS and too little is devoted to social care by increasingly cash-strapped councils.  The Government must deliver on its promises of ensuring millions no longer face the risk of a postcode lottery of care and of losing all their life savings to pay for care costs which taxpayers cover for others.  Money for care has not been ring-fenced for care and therefore not being spent on the care that is needed by an increasingly aging population.

“Saga, now the nation's largest provider of home care, has 18,000 carers providing two million hours of care a month, and we have daily contact with millions of over-50s, many of whom are touched by the care issue. And the overriding opinion of virtually every one of them is disbelief that such a vital issue – described by the government itself as ‘urgent’ – can be taking so long to sort out.

“We call on the Government to introduce meaningful reforms, encourage people to save for their future care needs and take away the biggest risks of catastrophic care costs, so people have proper incentives to save.  We also need to see the Government ensuring that all local authorities are forced to plan properly for the care needs of their constituents - a ten year plan to cope with the rising costs of caring for older people is an essential reform to ensure councils have to factor the needs of more older people properly into account.”