Anger over mounting care crisis
Almost any day some news programme or newspaper carries an item about the crisis in care. NHS chiefs complain about bed-blocking by patients who cannot be discharged because social services cannot find accommodation for them. Care homes teeter on the verge of bankruptcy because the rate local authorities pay them is barely enough and costs have risen due to the Minimum Living Wage. Local authorities’ increasingly desperate pleas for more money from the government have had no response.
In areas where local authorities have or are seeking more control over service delivery, such as Greater Manchester, attempts are being made to integrate NHS services and social care provision. But this is barely happening elsewhere and will take time to produce improvements. In the meantime, local authorities are simply looking for easy budget cuts, which often means sacking people and putting still more pressure on already overworked social and care workers. For example, Somerset’s local authority is currently overspending by £8,000 per hour on adult social services.
Unfortunately for people who need to arrange care, either at home or in a residential home, one result is that many people are not told about benefits they are entitled to. Because of the complexity of the system, it is hard for most people to work this out. It’s estimated that over £3.5 billion of benefits are not being claimed in the UK every year – mainly by the elderly.
Ian Evans, our Head of Later Life Advice, specialises in this area. He is a member of the Society Of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA), which accredits financial advisers who meet its rigorous standards. Ian is one of only 350 advisers in the country accredited with SOLLA and his knowledge has helped many clients to secure benefits they did not know they were entitled to and to arrange satisfactory arrangements for people managing the affairs of elderly relatives.
The one piece of advice Ian will give to everyone is to set up Lasting Power of Attorney well in advance of when it is needed. This can save enormous sums of money and avoid anxiety and delays if you have to apply to the Court of Protection to take charge of someone’s affairs.