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June 2008 Off the Wire . . .




Care Charges Risk Leading People With MS Into Poverty, UK

Main Category: Multiple Sclerosis
Article Date: 05 Jun 2008 - 6:00 PDT
The MS Society is among 18 major organisations to back a new report published, which reveals that rising care charges are putting older and disabled people at risk of not being able to afford to eat, heat, wash or get essential support.

The report by the Coalition on Charging - a group representing disabled people, older people and carers - shows that rising care charges are causing disabled and older people in England including people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to reduce or even stop their support services.

The coalition is now calling on the Government to thoroughly review the impact of care charges ahead of a green paper on adult care reform.

The survey found that:

- 80% of people surveyed who no longer use care services say the charges contributed to their decision to stop their support.

- A fifth (22%) of people surveyed who are currently using support suggested they would stop if charges increased further.

- 29% of respondents do not feel their essential expenditure (related to impairment/health condition) is taken into account in financial assessments to pay charges.

- Nearly three quarters (72%) of people surveyed believe the Government should consider the charges people pay for support at home in adult care reform plans.

Nearly half (46%) of the people with MS who were surveyed told the MS Society that their charges for local authority funded social care has risen in the past three years. Just 6% said their charges had dropped.

Dan Berry, Head of Policy and Campaigns, said: "MS is a lifelong and progressive condition and as such, becomes more expensive the older people become.

"It is unacceptable that people with MS are being forced to cut back on the essential support they need because of the rising cost of care."

Since 1948 local authorities have been able to charge for care and support provided to help people remain living in their own home. Charging for care and support at home has become more common since the introduction of Community Care reforms in the early 1990s.

Sue Bott, Chair of the Coalition on Charging and NCIL Director, said:

"Restricted access to social services and increased charges for support has had a huge impact on the day to day lives of disabled people, older people and their families - making many people more likely to experience poverty."

She added: "Our research shows that people are being forced to reduce their support, or even stop it altogether because they cannot afford to pay. The government must conduct a full and proper review to truly understand the damage that rising care charges are having on people's lives."

MS Society

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