Elderly care postcode lottery: Over 65s in some areas are SIX TIMES more likely to get full funding than in others

Published by Edmund Greaves on 08 February 2019.
Last updated on 08 February 2019

Care home resident

Over 65s face significant disparities in state-backed care depending on the area of the UK they live in.

Every year 1.3 million requests for care and support are made by over 65s, but just over half a million currently receive full or partial funding from local authorities. 

And, a significant regional disparity on the chances of being accepted for full, partial or no funding has emerged, according to data obtained from Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) to local authorities by equity release advice firm Key.

The firm submitted FOIs to 205 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. It found councils currently provide care support for 568,867 over 65s.

Just one in three (31%) of these receives fully-funded care support. Just over half (53%) receive partial funding.

19 councils were unable to provide information of funding for 93,324 people.

But these national averages do not reflect the huge disparity between different regions of the UK.

The East of England is far more likely to fully fund over 65 care, with 68% of cases fully funded.

The region with the smallest proportion of fully funded over 65s in care was the North East, fully funding just 11%.

The table below shows the breakdown between regions and nations as to whether over 65s are fully funded, partially funded or using a Deferred Payment Agreement (DPA [explained below]):

Region/nation Numbers fully-funded Numbers partially-funded Percentage fully-funded Number of DPAs
East 29,334 13,813 68% 652
South West 27,509 29,920 45% 661
London 22,937 27,596 39% 317
Yorkshire 15,162 31,464 33% 563
South East 35,756 72,741 28% 1,260
North West 11,609 20,023 23% 700
Scotland 8,108 24,817 22% 453
West Midlands 11,124 27,710 19% 860
East Midlands 6,019 27,402 17% 440
Wales 3,061 14,359 16% 478
North East 2,980 8,045 11% 498
UK total: 173,599 297,890 31% 6,882

Source: Key FOI requests to 205 local authorities, February 2019

Will Hale, chief executive of Key, says: “With 1.31 million requests for care and support each year – a figure that is only going to climb – as a country, we face some tough choices around what we can afford to offer.” 

The government first announced in March 2017 that it intended to set out its proposals for care funding. However, it has yet to publish its Green Paper to outline it recommendations.

Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon comments: “As our population ages, delivering a fair and sustainable deal on how the UK funds social care is one of our greatest societal challenge.

"Unfortunately, the promised Green Paper on social care funding has suffered repeated delays, leaving many tens of thousands in the dark regarding how to obtain and pay for social care, making them one of the biggest casualties of a Government bogged down by Brexit.

“While we wait on a new deal, thousands face catastrophic care costs, often destroying plans to pass on an inheritance to future generations. The government’s share also needs to be adequately funded to ensure good and consistent quality of care, bringing to an end the current geographical lottery.”

On Wednesday, the Chair of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier MP, accused the government of being “in denial” over the perilous state of local finances.

Ms Hillier adds: “Government needs to get real, listen fully to the concerns of local government and take a hard look at the real impact funding reductions have on local services. And then it needs to plan properly for the long-term.

“It is extremely troubling that the government views the financial sustainability of councils solely in terms of statutory services, rather than full range of services local people need and can reasonably expect councils to provide.”

Paying for care with your home

The figures also show a tiny proportion use Deferred Payment Agreements (DPAs) to fund the cost of care. This is where a homeowner uses the value of their home to fund the cost of care. The local authority pays for the care, and this is then reimbursed to the council when the care recipient dies using the value of the home.

The data shows just 6,882 DPAs in use, a tiny fraction of the total over 65s receiving care support. This is despite Key finding from its own research that 19% of over 55s say they would need to use their property wealth to fund the cost of care.

Mr Hale adds: “Local authorities and government are under pressure and while the upcoming Green Paper should provide some clarification, the likelihood is that many will need to find some if not all the money needed to pay for care.

“While few people want to consider the prospect of needing care and how they might meet this cost, it is vital that they do.

“Starting to think about care funding early, speaking to their families, considering all the funding options available and getting good advice is essential.  This will help people to crack the care code and ensure that they make considered sustainable choices about what is a very emotive topic.”

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