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8th October 2013

Care budget cuts by councils put rights of older people at risk

A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has warned that councils are cutting care budgets so much that in some cases they do not cover the cost of actually delivering care for older people. The report says that older people's human rights are being put at risk as a result.

A key reason for this breach of rights, said the watchdog, was that carers neglected tasks because councils paid for too little of their time.

The EHRC report into home care – help with dressing, washing, eating and taking medicines – echoes yesterday's report by the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity which found that the number of councils providing 15-minute care visits was on the increase in England.

The EHRC report follows an investigation two years ago. In its latest report the watchdog said: "The way home care is commissioned by local authorities may be increasing the risks of older people suffering human rights abuses. In particular, the rates some local authorities pay care providers do not always appear to cover the actual costs of delivering care, a significant proportion of which are workers' wages which should include travel time."

It added: "Poor working conditions may lead to a high turnover of staff and increase the risks to the human rights of older people."

Katie Hall, chairman of the Local Government Association's community wellbeing board, said: "As the report acknowledges, the social care system is under enormous strain, with unprecedented cuts to council funding making it increasingly difficult to meet the escalating demand for care which is being caused by our ageing population.

"While this means councils have to seek greater levels of efficiency, the quality of care remains the primary concern."





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