Bevan & Buckland AccountantsCouncils are charging more for providing care services to help elderly and disabled people in their homes, and have increased the hourly costs they charge yet again writes Bevan & Buckland’s Financial Planning Manager, and accredited Later Life Adviser, Gareth Tregidon.

According to a survey conducted under a freedom of information request by the Labour Party, the number of elderly people having their home care services fully paid for by their local authority has fallen by 11% over the past two years, in spite of the ageing population.

The figures showed the average charge for an hour of home care increased by over 10% between 2009/10 and 2012/13, however there were wide variations across the country.  Some councils provide the care free whilst others charge up to £21.50 per hour.

And these variations are not limited to the hourly cost.  Although some councils cap the weekly costs people are required to pay for home care, this varies from around £90 to £900 a week.  Additionally almost half of the councils who reported having a cap on home care charges in 2009/10 have now removed it.

The increase in home care charges means the average annual cost for an older or disabled person who pays for 10 hours of home care a week has increased to £7,077 a year in 2012/13 – up more than £680 since 2009/10, according to the Labour Party.  Shadow care minister Liz Kendall called the increases “a stealth tax on the most vulnerable people in society”, citing not only the increase in hourly costs but also the reduction in the numbers receiving free care. 

Taken in isolation these figures are worrying, and probably not that surprising.  However, this is only part of the story.

Figures published by SAGA earlier this year suggested that inflation for retired and elderly people is higher than the more often quoted inflation rates of RPI and CPI.  Indeed, for the over 75’s it estimates that the increase in living costs for the 4 years to October 2011 was over 20%.  Add this to the above figures and it’s a very worrying position for anyone directly or indirectly looking at funding care costs.

Taking proper advice on funding care costs has never been more important.  Organisations like SAGA and The Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) can provide useful guidance and literature.  Alternatively, for a free initial discussion with a specialist in financial planning for later life and retirement, please give me a call. 

Gareth Tregidon

FinanciaCertified Financial Plannerl Planning ManagerFinancial Skills PartnershipSociety of Later Life Advisors

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