Government must address needs of older age renters or social care crisis will only get worse

published on 25 May 2018

The Salvation Army fears that the one-in-four people over the age of 75 who do not own their own home are still not a focus for the government in the lead up to the release of its green paper on adult social care.

A survey commissioned by The Salvation Army reveals that 84 percent of people over the age of 50 who do not own their own home do not feel financially prepared for any care or support they or their families may need in the future (compared with 45 percent of home owners). This growing pressure and financial uncertainty can leave older age renters especially vulnerable as they approach later life.

The Salvation Army is calling on the government to prioritise the needs of older renters, who are finding themselves without choice of where and when they receive the care they need, and their family members struggling to afford top-up fees, which are not covered by the local authority.

Head of Public Affairs for The Salvation Army, Dr Helen Cameron, says: “What we have found through the work we do with older people in our care homes, and confirmed in this survey, is that older people who don’t own their home not only feel less financially prepared for their future care, but in most cases are also unaware of the situation they and their families may soon find themselves in with regards to the costs of care.

“As an organisation that supports people who are marginalised, we want to ensure that the government is addressing the needs of this highly vulnerable group in its forthcoming green paper. 

“We must have a care system built on fairness, inclusion and choice, and at the moment this group is not being treated fairly. All older people, whether they own their own home or not, must have an equal say about the future of their own care.”

Currently, older people who own their own home are able to use the equity in their property to offset the costs of any residential care they require. Older people who are able to self-fund their care in this way often enjoy greater choice about where and when they are able to enter a care home. They are also able to defer the costs of their care to a later date agreed with the local authority. 

However, for those who do not own their own home and have their care home fees paid by their local authority, their choices are limited. Additionally, where funding from their local authority falls short, their family will generally be expected to pay top-up fees to make up the difference.

Nearly 80 percent of people surveyed, who do not own a home, did not know their family members would be expected to pay top-up fees if their local authority could not cover the full costs of their care. 97 percent of the same group said they wouldn’t be able to afford to contribute to a family member’s care, despite more than half saying they would be willing to.
Elaine Cobb, The Salvation Army’s Director for Older People’s Services, explains that almost half of residents living in the charity’s care homes receive local authority funding. However, the shortfall between funding and cost of care can be anything from £129 to £360 per week per person – equating to between £6,000 and £18,000 per year, depending on the local authority’s budget for adult social care. 

“Most of our residents who don’t own their homes come to us in their early 90s, often at the point of crisis where residential care is needed urgently,” she says. “Their children are often in their 60s or 70s and are at, or coming to, the end of their working life so they don’t have high incomes and simply don’t have the money to pay top-up fees where the local authority falls short.”

With an ageing population, increasing pressure on local authority funding, and a growing number of people not being able to afford their own home, The Salvation Army fears this problem will only get worse unless it is addressed now by the government.



Case Study

Mr and Mrs T forced to live apart after 48 years of marriage 

Mr and Mrs T live in Lewisham, and until recently lived together in their rented house where Mrs T still receives local authority-funded care at home. However, when Mr T had a stroke earlier this year, he needed to move into residential care. 

Mr T was accepted at The Salvation Army’s care home, Glebe Court. However, local authority criteria means Mrs T doesn’t have a choice about the care she receives – she isn’t able to live in the same care home, despite receiving funding for care at home. 

After 48 years of marriage, Mr and Mrs T are now forced to live separately and are only able to see each other during ‘visiting hours’. If they were home owners, the couple would have the choice to be together.

Key findings from the survey:

  • 78 percent of respondents who do not own their own home did not know that if someone cannot afford to cover any necessary top-up fees for their care or support, a third party, such as family members or friends, are generally expected to pay.
    • Compared to 67 percent of home owners
  • 84 percent of respondents who do not own their own home did not know that top-up fees have to be paid immediately and can't be deferred.
    • Compared to 79 percent of home owners
  • Only 11 percent of respondents who do not own their own home have taken steps or given in depth thought to the financial preparation for care for themselves or a family member.
    • Compared to 25 percent of home owners
  • 84 percent of respondents who do not own their own home said they do not feel financially prepared for any care they or their family members may need in the future.
    • Compared to 45 percent of home owners
  • 54 percent of respondents who do not own their own home said they would be willing to contribute towards the cost of a close family relative’s ongoing care and support, while only 3 percent said they would have the finances to do so.
    • Compared to 70 percent of home owners willing to, and 12 percent saying they would have the finances to do so.

The survey:

  • 1,023 online interviews with UK adults aged 50+, undertaken by Opinium from May 4-9

The Salvation Army’s work with older people:

The Salvation Army UK Territory and the Republic of Ireland is a Christian church and registered charity present in 700 communities throughout the UK. Alongside varied ministries, The Salvation Army provides a holistic and person-centred range of care services to support older people in their transitions toward retirement, frailty and end of life. 

The Salvation Army currently accommodates more than 460 older people in 13 residential homes across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as running community-based programmes in our churches and centres so that older people can live life to the full. 

In recent years, The Salvation Army has gained expertise in working alongside minority groups of older people, including those who are homeless or in prison. Our aim is to ensure that the final chapter of life is good with positive memories, upheld by dignity and respect through to the end of life.