Cuts slash safety net for old folk

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OLDER people in Lincolnshire are suffering a double blow as austerity cuts are slashing the social care budget just as it’s most needed to support long-term reshaping of services for the elderly.

Slimming down of care for older people provided by the county council will lead to “catastrophe” unless more cash is pumped into providing a safety net offered by voluntary and private sectors.

That’s the warning from Age UK Lincoln and Providing Adult Social Care Across Lincolnshire (PASCAL) chief officer Barry Earnshaw after it was revealed that 800,000 vulnerable pensioners nationwide are currently being let down by the system and left ‘lonely, isolated and at risk.’

He said: “There’s general acceptance that the current system of social care for adults across England isn’t working and is grossly underfunded.

“In Lincolnshire the voluntary, private and statutory sectors are working together on a long-term initiative to look at new ways of providing care and support where it’s needed to enable older people to live active and healthy lifestyles.

“We’re working on 40 projects, some in Lincoln, some across the county, which need to be put in place over the next year, but we only have limited funds. There will be a catastrophe unless we can get something done.

“At the same time social care throughout the UK is being reshaped to make it more cost effective and fit for purpose.

“In Lincolnshire eventually all eight of the county council’s retained care homes will close as Halmer Grange has in Spalding, and austerity cuts have tightened assessment criteria for funded social care which helps people continue to live in their own homes

“We’re one of a number of local authorities to have cut access for such care, now means-tested anyway, to all but those with ‘substantial and critical’ needs.

“This means there will be people needing more moderate levels of care who aren’t able to afford it and whose circumstances will deteriorate as a result.”

Mr Earnshaw was responding to a letter published in the Daily Telegraph from more than 60 expert correspondents which said failure to meet the challenge of an ageing population was resulting in “terrible examples of abuse and neglect.....An estimated 800,000 older people are being left without basic care – lonely, isolated and at risk.”