At least 400 pensioners sell their homes each week to pay for social care, a new study says today.
It reveals that 21,120 owners took the desperate step last year, compared with just 11,880 in 2000.
The figures lay bare the scale of a crisis in which anyone with more than £23,250 in savings, including their property value, is denied state help.
Thousands of pensioners have to sell their homes in order to fund their own care (file image)
The Daily Mail is campaigning for urgent action – particularly for dementia sufferers who make up two thirds of those in care.
Published by the charity Independent Age, the report also found that only some councils offer ‘deferred payment agreements’ that save people having to sell up before their death.
On his first day in No 10 Boris Johnson vowed to make social care a priority and end the crisis ‘once and for all’. He has since admitted that action will be delayed, probably until next year.
Jeremy Hughes of the Alzheimer’s Society warned yesterday that Mr Johnson risks losing the next election if he fails to deliver on his pledge.
Independent Age estimates that 11,880 owners had to sell up in 2000. Since then the annual total has almost doubled, with 21,120 selling their homes in 2018 (file image)
Despite two decades of reviews, commissions and proposals no government has come close to tackling the problem properly.
The latest report reveals that since 1999, when a royal commission proposed making personal care free at the point of use, more than 330,000 elderly people have had to sell their homes to pay their bills.
And the scale of the problem has got worse as care costs have soared and the elderly population has grown.
66% of complaints upheld
Funding issues are driving up the frequency of poor social care, a report by the Ombudsman reveals today.
Faults were found in 66 per cent of adult social care complaints investigated by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in the last year – up from 43 per cent in 2010.
The report said the rise in upheld complaints reflects ‘rationing’ of funds and ‘mounting pressures on those who work in the care system’. Head of the service Michael King said: ‘While I recognise the challenging environment both commissioners and providers are operating within, any attempts to reduce costs must also properly consider the impact on the rights and dignity of people who use services.’
The Ombudsman received 3,070 complaints about adult social care in the past year – with just 435 of those from people who fund their own care.
Some 1,220 probes were carried out, with 1,279 recommendations made. Mr King said: ‘It is vitally important care providers let people know about their rights to bring their complaints to us.’
Independent Age estimates that 11,880 owners had to sell up in 2000. Since then the annual total has almost doubled, with 21,120 selling their homes in 2018.
The charity’s researchers based their calculations on Department of Health data that suggests 30 per cent of those who self-fund residential care have to sell their homes to do so.
The totals were produced by then comparing the numbers for self-funders in care provided by Laing Buisson, a healthcare analysis firm.
The research assumes that the average stay in social care is two and a half years.
Morgan Vine, campaigns manager at Independent Age, said: ‘Our findings show exactly why free personal care is so badly needed.
‘Our Prime Minister has announced his intention to fix the social care system, and it’s crucial that free personal care is part of that solution.
‘Even arranging deferred payment agreements – a safety net to prevent people having to sell their homes within their lifetime – is proving to be a postcode lottery and doesn’t address the unacceptable situation where people are still required to spend a catastrophic amount on their care.’
A YouGov opinion poll commissioned by the charity found that 78 per cent of respondents would support free personal care for the over-65s.
This would mean those receiving care in their own home would face no costs and those in residential care would bear only the cost of board and lodging.
Charities, academics and celebrities – including Oscar-winning actress Judi Dench, broadcaster Michael Parkinson and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes – have backed the campaign.
The Daily Mail is calling for Mr Johnson to set-up a cross-party parliamentary group to examine new options for funding dementia care.
And he is being urged to establish an NHS ‘dementia fund’ to help families pay the extra cost of supporting those affected by the illness.
The Government set up deferred payment agreements in 2015. However the report reveals that seven of the 93 councils that responded to freedom of information requests had no such schemes in place. Three had failed to accept any applications.
Of the remaining town halls, 54 had accepted only some of the applications.
Sally Copley, director of policy at the Alzheimer’s Society, which is leading support for the Mail’s campaign, said: ‘These findings show that the British public want to see urgent action to reform our ailing social care system.
‘No one should have to sell their home to pay for care, but the overwhelming cost of dementia care, which can be at least 15 per cent more expensive than standard social care, means it’s something that happens far too often.
A YouGov opinion poll commissioned by the charity found that 78 per cent of respondents would support free personal care for the over-65s (file image)
‘The Prime Minister needs to make sure the cost of care is spread across society. It’s completely unfair that the most vulnerable are currently forced to pick up the bill.
‘That’s why we’re calling for the Government to commit to universal care which is free at the point of use.
‘This could help eliminate the risk of people having to sell their home and will deliver dignity and security for each of the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.’
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care told the Mail last night: ‘Everyone should have access to high quality and compassionate care.
‘We are providing councils with access to an additional £1.5billion for adult and children’s social care next year as well as protecting their existing grants to meet rising demand and continue to stabilise the social care system.
‘The Government will set out plans to fix the social care system in due course.’
More than 300,000 readers have signed the Mail’s petition to end the dementia care costs scandal. Sign the petition here.
Boris told: Fix social care crisis or face election loss
By Ben Spencer Medical Correspondent for The Daily Mail
Boris Johnson risks losing the next election if he does not deliver on his promise to fix social care, a leading dementia expert has warned.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said the British public would not elect any party which lacks a clear and detailed plan to solve the crisis.
The charity boss met the Prime Minister at Downing Street earlier this month when he and Barbara Windsor delivered a letter signed by 100,000 people calling for action.
He said Mr Johnson ‘sat up’ when he reminded him that Theresa May lost her majority at the last election largely because of the toxic reaction to her plan for a ‘dementia tax’.
Mr Hughes said yesterday: ‘People don’t want to back a party of whatever colour which will not support people with dementia. As the Daily Mail has highlighted, every week people are having to dip into their life savings, sell their houses and destroy their future inheritance to pay for dementia care.’
Mr Johnson promised to resolve the care crisis on his first day as PM, saying he had ‘a clear plan… to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve’. But details have yet to appear. With Brexit dominating politics, they are now expected next year.
Mr Hughes said: ‘The public expects the next prime minister to respond with immediate action to tackle the injustice that people face day after day. If they don’t see that promise being made in an election campaign they will think twice about backing that party.’