Vulnerable older people in England are at risk of being denied their human rights because of failures in the way the government allocates care resources since budget cuts, Human Rights Watch has said.
After a 13-month inquiry, the global campaign group has concluded that people are facing physical, financial and psychological hardship and are at risk of being denied adequate help to live independent, dignified lives.Under international law, the Care Act 2014 and the Human Rights Act, the government is obliged to ensure people’s rights to live independently in the community, to health and to private and family life, HRW said.
But an ageing population, rising care costs and government cuts mean adult social care services face a £1.5bn funding gap by 2019-20, rising to £3.5bn by 2024-25, according to the Local Government Association. In the decade to 2017 the population aged over 85 grew three times faster than the adult population as a whole and the number of older people needing publicly funded social care is forecast to increase by nearly 70% by 2035.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: “Support is routinely being reduced to the essentials, rather than focusing on what the Care Act intended – improving people’s wellbeing, dignity and independence. It’s now the government’s, and in particular the chancellor’s, responsibility to resolve the crisis in care.”
HRW said: “Older people in England are at risk of not getting adequate assistance to live independent, dignified lives due to unseen assessments for social services. The government risks failing to secure older persons’ rights to health, and to live in the community.”
Bethany Brown, co-author of the report, said: “Many older people desperately need these services and have no alternatives, so serious cuts to social services funding and an improper assessment can cause tangible risks to their health and wellbeing.”