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A Human Rights Watch report released today shows that older people in England are often denied crucial services, causing their health and overall wellbeing to decline.

Social care is essential to ensure the highest standard of health, independent living and private and family life for older people, who have contributed the most and continue contributing every day to society and their communities.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has called on governments to “implement measures especially for low-income families who wish to keep elderly people at home. This assistance should also be provided for persons living alone or elderly couples wishing to remain at home.” 

Day to day responsibility for providing social care primarily rests with local authorities, but substantial funding cuts from central Government have seriously curtailed the ability of local authorities to provide adequate services and protect social rights.

Funding for these services from central Government fell by almost half between 2010-11 and 2017-18. The weight of local government funding cuts falls on people at risk of harm, discrimination and disadvantage. It has been estimated that the local authorities that received the largest share of their funding from government grants in 2009 experienced most significant cuts to their service spending. The 10% of authorities most dependent on grants in 2009 received an average cut of 33%, compared to 12% for the 10% of authorities that are less dependent on grants.

Whilst the Care Act 2014 was flagged as a positive by the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in 2016, the committee also raised its concerns over the “persistent, serious shortcomings in the care and treatment of older persons”. They recommend that the UK Government takes “all necessary measures to ensure adequate pension benefits, care and treatment of older people including by carrying out training programmes for doctors and healthcare professionals about the rights of older persons and the treatment of dementia and Alzheimers disease”.