This fall in numbers comes despite an ageing population putting the care system under strain. The number of disabled young people and elderly being cared for was 1.78 million in 2008-09, but now this number has fallen to 1.32 million.
This reduction in numbers has been blamed on budget cuts in the social sector. It is thought that by 2015, local government will have lost a staggering third of its budget. Despite the government trying to protect social care, it is apparent that services have been hit.
The largest drop in numbers is among those aged 65+ getting social support. Last year alone this number fell by over 10% to under 900,000.
Chief Executive of Scope (disability charity) and chairman of the Care and Support Alliance, Richard Hawkes said:
“This is further evidence of a social care system on its knees and in desperate need of a reform. Chronic underfunding has seen hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people lose their support for even basic tasks, like getting up, preparing meals and doing the shopping. Without that support, older and disabled people become isolated, fall into crisis and end up in A&E.”
He goes on to explain that budget cuts have a devastating effect on families too, who become condemned to ‘a life of no work, poverty and ill-health.’
Care Minister Norman Lamb says that social care remains a priority for the government. From 2015 there will be a new pooled budget established between local government and the NHS, amounting to £3.8 billion.
Shadow Care Minister Liz Kendall remains sceptical however, saying that ministers are ‘out of touch with the scale of the crisis’.