Future of UK's social care under spotlight

Cost of disability benefits could increase by almost 50 per cent in 20 years
Cost of disability benefits could increase by almost 50 per cent in 20 years

Alan Johnson has launched a six-month consultation to determine the future shape of the social care system as the population ages.

The health secretary's announcement follows warnings that in 20 years' time the cost of disability benefits could increase by almost 50 per cent and a £6 billion 'funding gap' for social care is anticipated.

In two decades a quarter of the entire adult population will be aged over 65 and the number of people over 85 will have doubled.

As care and support needs increase with age, this will put tremendous pressure on services and on financial support.

The six-month consultation will ask the public and stakeholders for their views on how the social care system should change to meet the challenges of the next 20 years.

The government wants to create a new system that ensures everyone receives the care they need and is affordable for government, individuals and families in the long-term.

"Society is going through huge change - care and support must adapt to meet the challenges this will bring because the current system is simply not sustainable in the long term," said Mr Johnson.

"There is no option of a quick fix. Radical change is needed to bring together the range of activities, services and relationship that underpin care and support so that people are clear about what they are entitled to and how and where they can get it."

The health secretary also announced a £31 million programme to test the potential of innovative technologies such as telecare.

This system is a continuous, automatic and remote monitoring of real-time emergencies and lifestyle changes over time in order to manage the risks associated with independent living.

The pilot is being rolled out across Kent, Cornwall and Newham where people with complex health and social care needs such as diabetes, heart and chest problems and the elderly and the frail will use the technology.


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