Focus on: social care for older people

This report examines the scale and scope of cuts to social services for older people in England from 2009/10 to 2012/13.

Focus On: Social care for older people by Sharif Ismail, Ruth Thorlby and Holly Holder, tracks a period of real-terms reductions in Government revenue allocations to local authorities, who provide publicly-funded social care.

The research, which is part of the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation’s QualityWatch programme, reveals that most local authorities are tightly rationing social care for the over-65s in response to cuts, resulting in significant drops in the number of people receiving services.

Our analysis paints a picture of increased rationing of social care in response to deep cuts from central Government, despite the growing numbers of older people in the population Holly Holder, Fellow in Health Policy, Nuffield Trust.

Key findings include:

  • Between 2009/10 and 2012/13 spending on social care for older people fell by 15 per cent in real terms from £10.6 billion to £9.8 billion;
  • Almost a quarter of a million fewer older people received publicly funded community services in financial years 2012/13 compared to 2009/10, a 26 per cent drop;
  • Home and day care spending by councils fell by 23 per cent (or £538 million) over the same period;
  • The number of older people receiving home-delivered meals has more than halved since 2009/10;
  • Transfers of money from the NHS to adult social care have more than doubled since 2009/10. Without these, service cuts in social care could have been even more drastic.

The study seeks to assess the impact of social care cuts on the health and well being of older people and their carers, but finds that, due to a lack of available data, it is not possible to quantify this.

Holly Holder, Fellow in Health Policy at the Nuffield Trust and joint report author said:

“Our analysis paints a picture of increased rationing of social care in response to deep cuts from central Government, despite the growing numbers of older people in the population. It is highly likely that this is having a negative effect on older people’s health and wellbeing and that of their carers, but without adequate data to assess this impact, the NHS and Government are flying blind.”

NHS and Government ‘flying blind’ as deep cuts prevent hundreds of thousands of older people accessing social care 26/03/2014

Press release QualityWatch

New QualityWatch research has found that the NHS and Government are ‘flying bling’ in planning services for vulnerable older people. Read our statement.

Read more

Suggested citation

Ismail S, Thorlby R and Holder H (2014) Focus on: social care for older people. Research report. Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation.