Economy crisis could affect elderly care

PROBLEMS with the economy have left county chiefs facing the prospect of shelling out extra millions to prop-up vital elderly care services, The Evening Star can reveal today.

PROBLEMS with the economy have left county chiefs facing the prospect of shelling out extra millions to prop-up vital elderly care services, The Evening Star can reveal today.

As a result of the financial slowdown it is feared a number of care providers for Suffolk's elderly and vulnerable could go to the wall - leaving Suffolk County Council to provide for those affected.

In addition concerns have been raised that falling house prices will leave less people able to fund their own care, meaning council coffers will foot a bigger bill for care costs.

The double whammy could leave the council facing a massive bill, placing huge pressure on an already strained budget.


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A report on the situation, prepared by council officers, states the authority must be prepared to foot the bill should any existing care providers go bust as a result of the worsening economy.

“If a care business were to cease trading adult care services would have a duty to support all the customers affected,” the report said.

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“This is in addition to the cost of finding replacement services for adult care services funded customers.”

It adds the slowdown in the housing market could result in further problems.

“The implication of this is that the money they (customers) have available to pay for their own care will run out quicker, and the council will therefore have to pick up the care costs sooner than planned,” the report adds.

Graham Newman, councillor responsible for adult care services at Suffolk County Council, said the authority is not insulated against external economic factors.

“In the independent care sector there have been some purchases of homes by large groups that are more finance based operations rather than traditional care providers,” he said.

“If you think of what happened to Woolworths, just a few months ago you wouldn't have thought it had a terminal problem.

“There are circumstances that could happen quite quickly but I don't want to be too alarmist about it as many places are run by care trusts and those not dependent on the money markets for immediate funding.”

He added that falling house prices could have an impact on budgets, although it is not likely to be felt immediately.

Currently those with assets of more than �22,500 do not receive council care subsidies. Falling house prices could mean more people becoming eligible for subsidies, all at a cost to the council.

Are you concerned about the possible closure of care homes in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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