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Cost of care continues to creep upwards

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Elderly people about to go into a care home are now facing average fees of £30,000 a year, a study has shown.

Research carried out by the care agency Prestige Nursing found that the costs involved were rising at a rate some ten times faster than increases in pensioners’ income.

A typical pensioner would be short by an average of £290 a week when it comes to covering the costs of a single room at a residential care home.

Commentators have said the new figures highlight the escalating crisis facing the sector.

While care bills are highest in London, many other areas of the UK are not far behind and there are concerns that the income of even the wealthiest retirees is no longer sufficient to keep pace with the costs involved.

Baroness Ros Altmann, until recently the Pensions Minister, argued that successive governments had failed to confront the immense challenges facing the care system and that it was in many cases relatives who were having to pick up the bill.

“We have an increasingly desperate crisis in social care in this country. Nobody has set money aside to cover care needs for the increasing numbers of older people who cannot manage to look after themselves,” she said.

The latest round of figures, which Prestige has argued demonstrate a “lack of appetite” among politicians to confront the biggest challenges, are likely to fuel anger over the decision to postpone the introduction of a cap in care fees.

In response to the criticism, a government spokesman said: “It has always been the case that social care is means tested, but help is available for those who cannot afford to pay.

“Landmark government reforms mean people will not be forced to sell their home to pay for care in their lifetime, will have the same right to care and support no matter where they live in the country, and this year we increased the amount that nursing homes can claim from the NHS to pay for nurses.”