Health

Budget 2017: Two women caught in the social care funding divide

Ruth Angove (left) and Jane Patterson's mother (right) Image copyright Judy Perkins and Jane Patterson
Image caption Ruth Angove (left) and Jane Patterson's mother (right)

"An Alice in Wonderland situation" is how one woman has described her elderly mother's social care provision where she is given more money each month than she can spend.

Another says her mother has not received a penny toward her support.

Both women told the BBC that they think the chasm between their circumstances highlights the problems within the social care system which they hope will be addressed in the Budget.

The woman getting council funding: 'Money is being thrown away'

Judy Perkins, who lives in Richmond, Surrey, says her mother has accrued more than £10,000 in three years in money she has been given towards her care, but cannot spend.

Her mother, Ruth Angove, 82, is disabled and has no income other than the state pension with an enhanced pension credit and attendance allowance.

She lives alone in the home she owns, is bed-bound and has dementia.

The local council provides her with five and a half hours of home care every day but assesses her contribution to the cost as only £170 a month which is about 6% of actual cost.

It says that due to government regulations this is the maximum they can take and it then has to pay the rest itself.

Image copyright Judy Perkins
Image caption Ruth Angove (right) with her daughter Judy Perkins (centre) and her son-in-law Richard Perkins

"I'm very embarrassed about it," said Mrs Perkins. "It's a real Alice in Wonderland situation."

"While I may be glad my mother is financially more stable, as a taxpayer I find it ridiculous. I feel over-taxed all the time and then see money being thrown away."

Mrs Perkins said she understood that some people may need their attendance allowance for expenses like transport but said her mother could only use a limited amount.

"The consequence is that she has built up a surplus of more than £10,000," she explained.

Following the Budget on Wednesday 8 March, she said giving local councils £2bn extra in the Budget for social care provision still did not address the need to change the regulations so that they could be more careful about how it is spend and ultimately make the system work for those who pay for the services as well as those who use them.


Our health correspondent Nick Triggle says:

Ruth is one of a dwindling group of people - those people whose needs are so great that they qualify for help from councils.

The numbers getting support from local authorities have fallen by a quarter in five years as town hall budgets have been squeezed.

But to get help you also need to be judged to have not enough money to pay for the cost of care yourself.

If she had more savings she would be expected to contribute more and if she had over £23,250 she would have to pay the full cost of her care.

Presumably as she accrues more money, the council will start increasing her contribution.

There are about 850,000 older people in England that are in a similar position to Ruth - in that they get help from their local council.

However, there are four times as many paying for care themselves, relying on family and friends or simply going without.


Find out the cost of care in your area


The woman paying for herself: 'She's had to sell her home'

Image copyright Jane Patterson
Image caption Jane Patterson says her parents were hard-working honest people

In Tyne and Wear, Jane Patterson said she has had to sell everything her mother owned to pay for her care needs.

"I have been forced to sell her house and get rid of her personal belongings as if she was dead," she said.

Miss Patterson's mother is blind and had to move into a care home in 2014, two years after being diagnosed with dementia.

She owned her home, had some savings and as well as her own pension had a small company pension from her late husband.

As her mother's assets were worth in excess of £23,250, Miss Patterson said she had to sell her mother's house to meet the £3,500 per month care home fees.

'No incentive'

Miss Patterson said her mother is well-cared for by the staff at the home but has to pay for everything, from her own bedding to her toiletries, while government-funded residents are provided with everything they need.

One care organisation, she said, had told her it relied on self-funding residents to support those under social services care.

"It is not just about money, it's about the moral and decent side of respecting hard-working honest people and not taking advantage," she said.

"If assistance, support and care cannot be free and equal across the board, it does not have to be so criminally expensive.

"It should be free all over United Kingdom not just free in Scotland," she added.

Image copyright Jane Patterson
Image caption Jane Patterson's mother went blind and was also diagnosed with dementia

Miss Patterson said the additional money announced in the Budget would still not help those who pay for their own care.

"I do agree some contribution should be made by the individual if their circumstances allow. So a fair and consistent cap would be more palatable. All my parents did was work and save hard and a fair system would be all they ask," she said.

"We're all going to face the need for care when we're older and as a working woman I am happy to pay towards that from my salary, but there is absolutely no incentive to do the right thing in this country.

"This is just putting a sticking plaster on a broken system."


Our health correspondent Nick Triggle says:

The so-called crisis in social care is not just about a squeeze on council budgets, it's also about the impact on individuals such as Jane's mother.

Three quarters of people face paying for care once they pass the age of 65. For one in 10 the costs can exceed £100,000.

But these costs are not just accrued because these people do not qualify for council help.

There is increasing evidence to suggest those who pay for themselves are actually subsidising the council-funded care market.

Self-funders routinely pay more for their care than the fees councils pay. Analysts Laing Buisson believe this is effectively a "hidden care tax".


How to follow Budget on BBC


By Annie Flury, UGC and Social News Team, and Nick Triggle, Heath Correspondent

Related Topics

More on this story