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New research exposes scale of government's social care crisis for disabled people

Thousands struggling to eat, wash or leave their homes

New research published today (Thursday 17 January) exposes the true scale of the Government’s social care crisis for disabled people, which has left thousands without access to basic care to help them eat, wash properly and leave their homes.

The report, 'The Other Care Crisis’, is published by Scope, Mencap, The National Autistic Society, Sense and Leonard Cheshire Disability. It brings together a number of strands of analysis, including economic modelling from Dr José-Luis Fernández, deputy director of the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at LSE.

The leading disability charities are concerned that the debate about social care reform has focused on the needs of an ageing population and side-lined the thousands of disabled people under the age of 65 who rely on care in everyday life.

One third of the people who receive on social care are disabled, yet Emma from Cambridge says “Not getting the support I need has meant my life is on hold. I have no routine, I feel socially isolated, lonely and of no value to society. I’m only 24 I feel 84.”

The charities are urging the Government to put disabled people at the heart of reforms by setting eligibility for state funded social care at ‘moderate needs’ in order to guarantee the most vulnerable people in society basic support in their day to day lives.

The report, the first comprehensive analysis of how the social care crisis affects disabled people, brings together three new pieces of evidence:

1. An extensive study of 600 disabled people's experiences of the social care system shows almost 40 per cent of disabled people currently receiving some social care support are not having basic needs met including eating properly, washing, dressing or getting out the house.

2. Leading academics at the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) within LSE, the same team commissioned by Andrew Dilnot in his review of social care funding, reveal in a new technical report, that up to 105,000 disabled people are at risk of not receiving any basic support for their day to day lives as a direct result of the Government’s proposals for social care reform.

3. The team at LSE also exposes £1.2billion funding gap when it comes to social care support for disabled people under the age of 65.

The combination of these findings presents clear and compelling evidence of a social care system that is failing disabled people under the age of 65, at a time when Government reforms through the Care and Support Bill, are being scrutinised by a Joint Committee of MPs and Peers.

The charities warn of a social care system on the brink of collapse as a result of years of chronic underfunding by successive Governments. They argue that councils are in an impossible position of wanting to provide more support to the growing numbers of disabled people who require care, at a time when they are facing unprecedented cuts to their budgets.

Of the 600 disabled people the charities spoke to:

  • Over a third (36 per cent) said they were unable to eat, wash or leave their homes due to underfunding
  • 47 per cent of disabled people said a lack of social care support prevented them from taking part in community life
  • 34 per cent said it prevented them from working or volunteering
  • 53 per cent of disabled people reporting significant anxiety, isolation and deteriorating mental health as a result of not getting the care they needed.

In the Draft Care and Support Bill, the Government committed to introducing a new national eligibility threshold to end the postcode lottery when it comes to determining who qualifies for state funded social care support, a move supported by the charities. However as a result, it is widely anticipated that the Government will drastically limit the number of disabled people who will continue to receive this support by setting eligibility at ‘substantial needs’.

The analysis undertaken by the team at LSE and commissioned by Scope , reveals for the first time:

  • 105,000 disabled people are at risk of not getting the basic support they need to help them eat, get washed and leave their homes if Government sets eligibility at ‘substantial needs’. This figure comprises:
    o 36,000 disabled people who have ‘moderate needs’ and currently receive some care may lose this basic support.
    o An additional 69,000 disabled people with ‘moderate needs’ who are not receiving any basic support, meaning they are likely to struggle with day to day life.

The charities urge the Government to address the £1.2billion funding gap, the equivalent of 0.17 per cent of public spending , into social care support for disabled people and argue that this is the price the Government must pay to guarantee basic support for the most vulnerable people in our society and prevent this crisis from escalating even further.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope said: “This is shocking evidence of a system that has failed disabled people, effectively condemning them to a life without basic dignity and invisible to society. “Times are tough for everyone but being able to eat, wash and leave your home is not a luxury. It is absolutely appalling that this is the sad reality of life for thousands of Britain’s disabled people. “Enough is enough. We cannot bury our heads in the sand any longer and ignore the desperate situation disabled people find themselves in without help in their day to day lives. “We need an urgent and long term solution from the Government to lift disabled people out of a life without basic support for the day to day tasks that everyone else takes for granted.”

Read the full press release here


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17 January 2013