In a new report, LDAS have uncovered the hidden effects of social care cuts in Scotland. Over 20,000 older people, people with learning disabilities and others are no longer getting vital social support since the start of the 2007 economic recession. By examining Government statistics and comparing them to the growth in the elderly population we have found that many people who might previously been eligible for social care services are no longer getting help.
In the last 6 years the numbers getting home care in Scotland have fallen by 11,000 and the numbers in residential care have fallen by 2,000. But at the same time the number of people over 65 has continued to grow. If the same proportion of people were still getting help in 2013 as were in 2007 then a total of 20,000 more people would be getting care at home or residential care.
LDAS has long argued that the cuts in public spending would not focus on large scale closure of services such as that proposed by Quarriers last month at Seafield School in Ayrshire but would be about smaller changes in the individual’s packages of care. These new numbers back this up.
The biggest fall has been in people who would previously have got 4 or less hours of support a week. The Scottish Campaign For A Fair Society carried out a Freedom of Information request into changes in Eligibility Criteria. These are rules which determines who gets support and who doesn’t. We have analysed the replies and it appears that most councils in Scotland have now adopted the new 2009 national criteria.
These new rules are being used to screen out people who need small levels of support to manage their lives. Further, little thought seems to have been given to how councils can support these people to engage with preventative services. If people are not eligible then they are simply signposted to the voluntary sector but few checks are being carried out to make sure people get some help.
We also found that rising care charges are helping to push people into making alternative or no arrangements. Over the last 4 years councils have raised the amount that they get from social care clients in charges by 21% – 3 times the rate of inflation. More people are paying charges and they are now paying more than ever.
Even vital preventative services like Telecare and Community Alarms have seen the numbers using them decline in the last couple of years as more and more councils start to charge a weekly non means tested amount.
People on benefits or relying on pensions are being increasingly squeezed. People who are offered small amounts of care can often make other arrangements themselves more cheaply or get the help of friends and family to save their money to meet essentials like fuel, food and clothing.
As a result many of the people no longer getting a service will have made their own choice not to engage with formal local authority provision. Others will have been told that they will simply not get a service. This reality remains hidden with many people unable to access support in the community, living quiet, hidden and isolated lives within the community.