There has been a significant drop in the number of people receiving support from social services in England, raising concerns that frontline cuts are leaving older people struggling on alone.
A new report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre has revealed that 1.3m adults received help from social services in England in 2012/13, a reduction of 9% on 2011/12 and 25% on 2007/8.
A breakdown of the survey shows the biggest fall was in the number of people benefiting from community-based services, with 10% fewer adults (down to 1.1m) receiving support compared to 2011/12.
These services help those living with chronic illnesses and disability to live independently in their own home.
Elsewhere, the number of people receiving residential care fell 2% to 209,000 while the number receiving nursing care fell 1% to 87,000.
There were 2.1m enquiries made to council departments for support, down less than 1% from 2011/12 and up 1% from 2007-08.
Following enquiries, 603,000 assessments were made for new clients, down less than 1% from 2011/12 and down a staggering 9% from 2007/08.
From those assessed, 67% (404,000) resulted in the person receiving support.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, says: ‘These figures show how increasingly desperate the care crisis is with the numbers of people receiving care falling, as are the number of people actually being assessed to see if they need support.
‘It’s clear that frontline cuts are leaving older people struggling on alone whilst living with chronic illnesses and disability. We already know that there are hundreds and thousands of older people who need help with basic tasks such as washing, dressing or cleaning their teeth and who do not receive it.
‘As Local Authorities continue to restrict eligibility for the people with highest needs the situation looks bleaker than ever. Those older people unable to access care are being denied their dignity and peace of mind at the point of greatest vulnerability.
‘The care system is fragmenting and nothing will change until the Government accepts the fact that the funding system has failed and acts so that adequate funds are made available. Legislative reform is vital but pointless with insufficient funding in place.’