Nearly 150k elderly Brits have to use savings to cover care home costs

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Almost 150,000 elderly care home residents are being forced to empty their savings to ‘prop up the broken care system’, new figures show.

Official statistics yesterday laid bare the postcode lottery – with pensioners in the South East nearly twice as likely to pay for their own care as residents in the North East.

Overall, nearly one in three have to pick up the bills for their own care, including thousands who are forced to sell their homes. It is the first time national data showing what proportion of care home residents ‘self-fund’ has been released by the Office for National Statistics.

The Daily Mail has spent two years campaigning for reform of the broken social care system, which forces dementia patients to fork out billions for their care rather than being supported by the state.

People in England pay the full cost of social care until their assets – including the value of their own homes – fall below £23,250. But last month Boris Johnson announced that an £86,000 cap on lifetime care costs will be introduced in 2023 to reduce the pressure on pensioners to sell their homes to pay their bills.

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War hero had to sell his home 

A Falklands hero was forced to dig into his life savings and sell his home to pay for his specialist dementia care costs.

Jimmy Quinn, 75, from Yeovil in Somerset, died in February just weeks after selling his property to cover a £1,400-a-week care bill.

His daughter Natalie said: ‘At the same time that my dad was receiving care for his Alzheimer’s, my mum developed a brain infection.

‘But the difference was that mum received quality unpaid care through the NHS and recovered, whereas we had to pay through the nose for my dad’s care and now he’s not here. Why should social care be any different from the NHS?’

Mr Quinn became a stand-up comedian after leaving the Royal Navy.

This will be funded with a 1.25 percentage point tax hike on national insurance and dividends – called the ‘health and social care levy’. From 2019 to 2020 143,774 residents paid for all or some of their own care – 37 per cent of the total.

The proportion of self-funders was highest in the South East, at 45 per cent, and lowest in the North East, at just 24 per cent, reflecting house price variations.

Care homes in the most deprived districts had a smaller proportion of self-funders – 22 per cent compared with 54 per cent in the most affluent areas. And half of residents in care homes for people aged 65 and over were self-funding, compared with 5 per cent of those in homes for younger residents.

Gavin Terry, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘It’s astonishingly unfair that to this day around half of older people living in residential care are paying for their own care costs.

‘People with dementia can typically pay up to £100,000 for their care in their lifetime, and in some cases be forced to sell their homes. During the pandemic, we tragically saw the cost of our broken social care system – people with dementia accounted for one in four deaths from coronavirus.

‘For decades social care has been treated as an afterthought, with measly, drip-feed funding – 70 per cent of older care home residents have dementia.

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‘The Government must address the financial and emotional toll this shortfall of social care funding takes on them and their families.

‘The Government needs to provide an immediate cash injection in the upcoming spending review, with a minimum of £3.9billion.’

Pete Davies, senior organiser at the GMB union, said: ‘The under-funding and exploitation of our care system has weighed heavy on those who find themselves having to pay for their own care.

‘Many people are paying far above the rate that a local authority would pay for the same service.

‘Ultimately, they are paying over the odds and often being plunged into debt to prop up a broken system – one that relies on gross injustice to generate bloated profits for shadowy private companies.’ 

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