About 800,000 elderly people in the United Kingdom who need social and health care are not receiving any support from either state or the private sector, according to a report from Age UK, a British registered charity.
Within four years, that figure will exceed 1-million.
Meanwhile, as Britain’s population continues to age (like much of the Western industrial nations), local councils are making it increasingly difficult for the elderly to receive such care by changing eligibility rules -- thereby creating a potentially tragic situation for the nation’s elderly.
Of the 2-million elderly folk in the UK who need social and special care, only 1.2-million are eligible for such services, Age UK said. And some of these people who are receiving formal care have to pay for such services since they exceed the income cap.
In England, social care is means-tested, meaning that people who have savings in excess of £23,250 are excluded from the system.
Age UK is requesting that the government overhaul the entire system, remove the means-tested measures and guarantee everyone a certain minimum level of care, if needed.
Ironically, the National Health Service (NHS) has seen its budget rise significantly in recent years.
Age UK calculated that, taking inflation into account, funding for the social care of the elderly has climbed by only 0.1 percent a year since 2004 – or about £43-milion. In stark contrast, the NHS budget grew by £25-billion.
Moreover, the charity stated that spending cuts are projected to reduce spending on older peoples’ care by £300-million over four years (using optimistic assumptions). Real spending on older people’s care will be £250-million lower in 2014 than in 2004.
Over the same period the number of people over 85 has risen by two-thirds (630,000 people).
The figures we have uncovered beggar belief. Care and support in England has reached breaking point, putting older people at risk and their families under intolerable strain, Michelle Mitchell, charity director of Age UK told BBC.
The British government is reportedly examining the problem and expects to publish its findings and potential solutions, perhaps later this year.
A spokesman form Department of Health spokesman told BBC: The government recognizes the urgent need to reform the social care system - an ageing population and rising expectations make the current system completely unsustainable.