Later Life  

Third of social care payers in debt

Third of social care payers in debt

One in three people who pay for their social care are in debt, according to new data from GMB Union.

The figures, which show that at least 130,000 people are trapped in social care debt, were given yesterday (June 12) at GMB’s Annual Congress in Brighton.

The union, which submitted freedom of information requests to every local authority in Great Britain with responsibility for social care, concluded that more than 93,000 people are facing debt management proceedings as a result of their social care debt, with more than 1,700 facing legal action.

However, GMB stated that the true figures are likely to be higher as some authorities didn't respond.

Region/Country

Invoices

Arrears

Debt management

Court

London

32,251

23,072

13,096

131

East of England

32,931

12,000

7,322

215

East Midlands

24,185

6,135

5,492

165

South East

56,370

19,598

13,844

110

South West

26,310

5,803

4,886

51

West Midlands

27,179

8,065

7,715

79

Wales

30,498

3,932

2,316

57

North West

69,918

26,818

23,465

382

North East

21,308

4,452

2,288

44

Yorkshire and Humber

30,946

4,916

2,372

28

Scotland

69,616

15,717

10,213

481

Total

421,512

130,508

93,009

1,743

It is estimated just 12 per cent of adults aged 55 or over are currently putting aside money to pay for social care later in life.

People are entitled to some help from their local authority if their income and savings are low. But exactly how much they get will depend on their care needs and how much they can afford to pay.

If they don’t qualify for help, they will either need to pay something towards their care costs, or meet the full cost themselves. People with a disability or complex medical condition might qualify for NHS funding.

Former prime minister David Cameron had promised to implement a cap on the cost of care of £72,500, which was supposed to come into effect in April 2016.

But in 2015 the government pushed this back to 2020, because it would have added £6bn to public sector spending at a "time of consolidation".

In December the government confirmed the proposed cap would be scrapped while a green paper on long-term reform was put together.

The publication of this paper was originally expected last summer but has faced several delays and is now expected to become public "in due course".

Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: "Our care system isn’t just in crisis - it’s crumbling beneath our feet.

"The way we fund our care system needs a radical overhaul - at the same time we need support, progression and pay structures to inspire new carers and retain outstanding staff.

"Instead of taking action, this Tory government keeps kicking the green paper on social care into the long grass when they should be coming forward with a coherent plan to properly fund our care sector."

maria.espadinha@ft.com

What do you think about the issues raised by this story? Email us on fa.letters@ft.com to let us know.