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Vulnerable people put at risk by social care cuts

10 December 2012

A new survey commissioned by the British Red Cross shows that cuts to preventative social care support are putting elderly and vulnerable people at risk.

According to the new ComRes poll, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of councillors across England have seen funding for preventative and low-level social care cut or frozen since the last local election.

And where cuts (averaging 16 per cent) have taken place, 76 per cent of councillors are worried about the elderly and vulnerable in their local area. In areas affected by cuts, 69 per cent of councillors state that, as things stand, people in need will not receive the appropriate care.

Invest to save

At the same time,new findings by consultants Deloitte have underscored the benefits the voluntary sector can bring – both in providing quality short-term care for the most vulnerable and saving millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Deloitte looked in depth at six of the Red Cross’ 100-plus preventative support schemes across the UK. They found that, on average, we offer a return on investment of 147 per cent to health and social care commissioners – that’s a sizeable £8 million in savings for the NHS and social care providers each year.

And of course, it’s not just about the money – our support helps people at their lowest ebb. Following a long hospital stay, Patricia Howe was struggling at home until the Red Cross stepped in.

She said: “I was overwhelmed by the Red Cross’ support. The day my volunteer arrived, my life changed completely. She was there when I felt very low and ill, and looked after me – everything I needed was right there.”

Long-term thinking

Sir Nicholas Young, chief executive, is convinced more needs to be done. He said: ““Cutting vital services is not only bad for elderly and vulnerable people, but bad economics. We know councils are facing pressures on their budgets, but urge them to rethink short-term cuts and spending freezes which could actually leave them worse off financially.”

He added: “Investing in preventative care means that millions of pounds will eventually be saved, as fewer people need intensive and expensive support.”

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