You are here: News Shortages in care fail UK’s older people

Four in five local authorities in the UK report not having enough care for older people in their area, new research from Family and Childcare Trust reveals.

The Family and Childcare Trust’s Older People’s Care Survey –funded by Legal & General- finds that more than 6.4 million people aged 65 and over are living in areas that do not have enough older people’s care to meet demand.

Shortages in care are greater among certain types of care. While 84 per cent of local authorities in the UK said they had enough availability for care home places, that figure falls to 48 per cent for at home care, and 44 per cent for extra care homes. Most concerning, shortages are biggest among care for the most vulnerable older people: just 32 per cent of local authorities report having enough nursing homes with specialist dementia support.

Families navigating the patchy older people’s care system must also cope with wide regional variations in availability. While only 57 per cent of councils in the North East reported having enough older people’s care to meet demand in their area, that figure drops to 7 per cent in Outer London.

Families funding their own care could find themselves lost without a compass due to the current lack of information. Local authorities responding to the Family and Childcare Trust’s Older People’s Care Survey reported large data gaps regarding the numbers of self-funders in their area and the fees self-funders pay to providers. Nearly 3 in 4 local authorities in the UK were not able to provide data on the rates that self-funders pay.

Where information was available, UK averages calculated by the Family and Childcare Trust show that self-funder fees for all residential types are 20 per cent more expensive than fees paid by local authorities. At the average cost of £16 an hour for 21 hours a week of at home care, it will take a self-funder just 1 year and 1 month to go through £20,000 worth of savings.

Claire Harding, Head of Research, at the Family and Childcare Trust, said:

"It is inexcusable that vulnerable people are left unable to find the care that they need.

"We urge Government to make sure there is enough care for everyone who needs it. In order to do this, we need robust data on where there are gaps in care, a funding system that truly meets the cost of providing care, and clear information for families.

"Without these steps, families will continue to struggle to find care and to meet the numerous care costs on their shoulders."

Graham Precey, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Legal and General, said:

"At Legal & General our aim is to help improve the lives of our customers and we can only do this if we can better understand the issues that they face. We know that finding care for loved ones can be a stressful experience for families, many of who are also struggling to find high quality childcare that supports them to work and boosts their children’s outcomes.

"Making sure there is enough local older people’s care not only provides our country’s elderly with the crucial support they need and deserve from us, but also gives sandwiched families the room to breathe and lead happier, healthier lives."

Other key findings from the first Older People’s Care Survey:

  • The average yearly rate for one residential care place in the UK funded by a local authority comes to £27,113.
  • Local authorities in inner London face the steepest funding rates for residential care for older people at £649 a week per place –a whopping 40 per cent higher than the cheapest regional funding rate for residential care of £464 in North West England


Contact: Mark Bou Mansour, Communications and Campaigns Manager. Telephone: 0207 940 7535, mobile: 07538 334 772, email:

Notes to Editor:

The Family and Childcare Trust is specifically calling for:

  1. Government to make sure that there is enough care to meet older people’s needs, including acting as a provider of last resort for when individuals cannot find appropriate older people’s care in their area.
  2. Government to track whether there is enough care for older people across the UK.
  3. Government to provide local authorities with funding that truly reflect the cost of services
  4. Government to provide investment capital and funding to support upstream intervention services, such as at home care, and extra care home schemes.
  5. The Government should provide workers with a right of up to 5 days of paid care leave
  6. Local authorities to provide up to date information for families about social care in their area, including information about the cost of fees and third-party contributions.
  7. In the long-term, the Government should address the strategic challenge of reforming care and support funding.

If an individual has assets worth more than £23,250 (£23,750 in Wales), they will have to fund their own care. This includes the value of their home, unless their partner is still living in it. Below this threshold, the local authority will fund part or all of the person’s care costs.

Family and Childcare Trust calculates that the average time it takes an individual in the UK to use up the value of their property before reaching the threshold at which their local authority will fund part or all of their residential care costs comes to seven years and one month, however, this figure varies widely by region. The period of time it takes an individual to use up the value of their property in North East England and Northern Ireland is three years and eleven months, less than half the UK average, while the period of time taken in London is fourteen years and eight months, nearly double the UK average.


  • The Family and Childcare Trust submitted Freedom of Information Requests to all local authorities and Health and Social Care Trusts (HSCTs) across the UK.
  • Respondents were asked to provide average prices for a range of residential and home care services, as well as the numbers of older people who used them.
  • Respondents were also asked whether there was enough provision of care available for older people for each of these services.
  • We received 182 responses out of 211, giving an overall response rate of 86%, and a minimum response rate of 78% in all regions and nations of the UK.
  • Some 27 per cent of respondents reported having insufficient data about whether the supply of older people’s care in their area could meet demand.
  • Certain regions showed greater awareness of their market than others. 88 per cent of local authorities in London were able to say whether their supply met demand, compared with just half of local authorities in the East of England.

About the Family and Childcare Trust

The Family and Childcare Trust aims to make the UK a better place for families. We are a leading national family charity in the field of policy, research and advocacy on childcare and family issues, with over 40 years’ experience. Our on-the-ground work with parents and providers informs our research and campaigns. We focus on the early years and childcare because they are crucial to boosting children’s outcomes throughout life and supporting parents to work.

About Legal and General Group PLC

Established in 1836, Legal & General is a leading provider of insurance, savings and investment management products in the UK. The Group is responsible for investing £841.5bn worldwide (as at 30 June 2016) on behalf of investors, policyholders and shareholders. Legal & General has over seven million customers in the UK for life assurance, pensions, investments and general insurance plans and over one million customers in the US who rely on us for life assurance.

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