An increasing percentage of pensioners are funding their very own care home fees as councils push increasing costs on to the middle classes, a study revealed yesterday.
Some 57 %of elderly care home residents – 231,000 – may be fully or part-funding their residential care, the largest percentage ever seen.
The rest already have it funded by their council either as they quite simply had no savings or for the reason that they have previously been forced to expend their assets on care.
The report by healthcare analysts Laing & Buisson says it indicates private care homes are increasing fees for those who are middle class in order to avoid bankruptcy.
They describe this to be a ‘hidden tax’ on the middle class who sadly are being forced unfairly to ‘bear the brunt of austerity measures’.
Lots of people in record numbers spending money on their own care and the fact that fees are going up adds up to a cruel ‘double penalty’ which suggests that thousands more could be forced to sell their homes.
Critics declared that ministers’ failure to implement the findings of this 2011 Dilnot report, and set a date for the implementation of a cap concerning the amount that people must pay, means the scandal continues for the near future
Under the current system, people with assets greater than £23,500 pay the full costs of their care, while people with less money get it free.
Ros Altmann, an ex-adviser to the Treasury, said: ‘This report uncovers a double penalty for everyone who gotten some savings put by.
‘Not only are they required to fund their own care because they have more money than the cruelly-low means test, they also end up having to subsidise people who don’t save because they’re charged extra as private payers.
‘If the Government doesn’t recognise the urgency of funding reform, than the crisis will just keep worsening.’
The stark figures are a part of a report, Care of Elderly People UK Market Survey.
It implies that 175,000 older residents paid the full costs of their long-term care fees in 2012 – 43 % of the number in care homes.
A further 56,000 – 14%- received some funds from councils but also relied on top-ups from relatives or friends.
William Laing, author of the report and the chief executive of Laing & Buisson, warned: ‘The private payers’ share is projected to keep growing in the future as the rate of owner occupation continues to expand among the elderly population at risk of entering care homes.’
The report uncovers large regional variations, with 55 %of residents in the South East of England paying the full cost of their care fees, compared to just 22 % in the North East. Great Britain’s average is 43 %.
Care home fees paid by councils for the poor have largely been frozen or susceptible to a below-inflation increase. Meaning the gap between what councils and private funders pay is opening up to an alarming extent.
On average, English councils paid £480 weekly for residential care in 2012/13 – up to £140 lower than the market price.