Rising care charges are putting older and disabled people at risk of not being able to afford to eat, heat their homes, wash or get essential support, says a new report published by the Coalition on Charging.
The report is backed by 18 major organizations that form the Coalition - representing disabled people, older people, people with long-term health conditions and carers.
Based on a snapshot survey, the report, 'Charging into poverty', reveals that rising charges for people to receive care in their own homes, are causing disabled and older people in England to reduce or even stop their support services.
The survey found that:
80% of people surveyed who no longer use care services say the charges contributed to their decision to stop their support.
A fifth (22%) of people surveyed who are currently using support suggested they would stop if charges increased further.
29% of respondents do not feel their essential expenditure (related to impairment/health condition) is taken into account in financial assessments to pay charges.
Nearly three quarters (72%) of people surveyed believe the Government should think about the charges people pay for support at home in adult care reform plans.
Since 1948 local authorities have been able to charge for care and support provided to help people remain living in their own home. Charging for care and support at home has become more common since the introduction of Community Care reforms in the early 1990s.
Responses to the survey show strong feelings of despair at the current situation and anxiety for the future:
'I have a disability with which I was born. Perhaps the Government might consider...other areas before taking money from the most vulnerable members of society who are already living in the poverty zone'
Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK, says:
"Local councils must understand the terrible impact that their inconsistent charging regimes have on the lives of disabled people, their families and carers. This report backs up what carers have told us over the last year during out consultation for the National Carers Strategy.
At a national level we will be pushing the Government to include a thorough analysis of the impact of charging as part of its review of care and support services and the forthcoming Green Paper."
Sue Bott, Chair of the Coalition on Charging and NCIL Director, says:
"Restricted access to social services and increased charges for support has had a huge impact on the day to day lives of disabled people, older people and their families. The shocking reality is that people needing support are being forced to choose between eating properly and using vital care services.
"The government must conduct a thorough review to fully understand the damage that rising care charges are having on people's lives and ensure the care reform green paper delivers a framework which ends the choice of food or care."
In May 2008 the Government launched a national debate on adult care reform in England in advance of a green paper. The Coalition on Charging is calling on Government to conduct a thorough review of the impact of care charges to be undertaken from 2008, and for these issues to be addressed in adult care reform in England.
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