News Story

New care overhaul leaves 300k older and disabled people struggling to live on their own (23 Oct 2014)

October 23, 2014

Care & Support Alliance Press Release: New care overhaul leaves 300k older and disabled people struggling to live on their own (23rd October 2014)

Following a crucial Government announcement on its flagship care reforms, a coalition of more than 75 charities is calling on the Government to urgently reconsider plans that risk leaving more than 300,000 older and disabled people without support to things as basic as getting up, getting washed and getting out of the house.

With parties pledging support for the NHS, the Care and Support Alliance joins experts in arguing that an effective, preventative care system is the only way to ease the admissions crisis.

The CSA says that the care system is on its knees, with demand going up but fewer and fewer people getting support.

The Government brought in sweeping reform of the care system in May – ending the postcode lottery, backing carers and capping catastrophic costs.

The Government today publishes a final version of its new national criteria for social care eligibility – in other words, it reveals who will and who will not get care from April 2015.

Chronic underfunding of the care system has seen councils increasingly ration access to care to only those with the highest needs.

But the Government now confirms that it doesn’t plan to reverse the trend.

Research by London School of Economics shows this means 340,000 people – who struggle to live on their own – will be locked out of the new care system.

The Care Minister, Norman Lamb, has previously said his intention is to set the level at the equivalent of ‘substantial’ in the current system. This formally excludes people who are misleadingly described as having moderate needs, but who actually struggle to do basic tasks without support.

The CSA argues that sitting behind this issue is a tale of chronic underfunding.

Councils report that some £3.5bn has come out of the care system in the last five years.

The Alliance is campaigning for a properly funded care system. The call to action follows YouGov polling which shows that the public have lost confidence in the current care system and that care – along with health – is the place they’d most like to see greater investment.

Richard Hawkes, Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said:
“The Care Act is a ground-breaking piece of legislation – capping catastrophic care costs and ending the postcode lottery.

“But it will only live up to its promise of a genuinely preventative system that promotes wellbeing, if the Government re-thinks its plans to exclude so many older and disabled people from the system.

“Setting a high threshold for the care system is a bit like going to the doctor with a chest infection and being told to come back with pneumonia.

“Every day, our 76 organisations hear horror stories of older and disabled people who struggle to get the support they need to simply get up, get dressed and get out of the house.

“Care – along with the NHS – is now undoubtedly an election issue. Population changes mean more and more people need care. Yet fewer and fewer people get it, as chronic underfunding has seen a year-on-year rationing of support.

“Our survey shows the public has lost confidence in the current system. It shows care, along with health, is where the public want the Government to invest more.

“The only long-term solution to the care crisis is an increase in funding, and – as the Barker Commission experts rightly argue – as a country we can afford it. In fact we can’t afford not to.”

The CSA is on-hand for interviews, case studies and background information.

Contact Warren Kirwan in the Scope press office on 02076197200 or

The Care and Support Alliance was set up in July 2009. It is a consortium of over 75 organisations that represent and support older and disabled people, including disabled children, those with long-term conditions and their families, and campaigns to keep adult care funding and reform on the political agenda. For more information go to  

Who are the “340,000”…

According to the research conducted by London School of Economics setting a high bar on eligibly (equivalent to substantial) would see the following people ineligible for council care:

  • 69,000 working age disabled people with moderate needs not in the system
  • 36,000 working age disabled people with moderate needs currently in the system
  • 170,000 older people (over 65s) with moderate needs not currently in the system
  • 65,000 older with moderate needs currently in the system

= 340,000

(From Fernández JL et al. (2013) Implications of setting eligibility criteria for adult social care services in England at the moderate needs level. London: PSSRU, LSE,

Care facts and figures

  • The care crisis is well documented. Age UK are reporting that almost 900,000 older people in England and Wales who struggle with such basic tasks as washing and dressing are being left to fend for themselves.
  • Councils report that some £3.5bn has come out of the care system in the last five years. Of the 152 councils in England responsible for care, government figures show nearly 90% now offer care only to those with the highest level of needs. In those areas this means older and disabled people who are unable to undertake several aspects of personal care, or of work, education or training are no longer eligible for council-funded care.
  • When it comes to just older people the figures are even starker. Two thirds of people aged 60+ believe the Government should be doing more on social care. Around seven in 10 are not confident they will receive good care. After the NHS, social care is the biggest priority for voters when it comes to government spending.
  • The most important decision for older and disabled people will be whether they are entitled to care in the new system, due to come in in 2015. The proposals were published for public consultation in the summer 2014 and the Government published its final version on 23rd October 2014. Eligibility will also be used to determine who benefits from the ‘cap on costs’.
  • The Barker Commission recently released its report on how we create a system fit for the 21st Century and proposals for how we can afford it.