Wednesday 22 November 2017
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Care home costs 2016

Care home costs rise ten times faster than pensioner incomes according to new research. The annual cost of a care home has increased by £1,536 over the past year – almost ten times the average £156 income gains enjoyed by pensioners over the same period, according to the five-year study by Prestige Nursing + Care.

Costs for an average single room in a UK care home have risen by 5.2% to £30,926. This is more than double the average pensioner’s income of £14,456; while pensioner incomes grew by just 1.1% over the last year.
The annual growth rate of care costs (5.2%) from 2015 to 2016 has more than doubled from the 2.5% growth rate from 2014 to 2015. This is far higher than the current rate of inflation (0.3%) and the fastest growth rate since Prestige began collecting data in 2012.

The annual shortfall between care costs and pensioner income amounts to £16,470 (£317 a week), should they need to pay for residential care in later life, up 16% from £14,196 four years ago. The total cost of care annually amounts to 114% of the average pensioner’s income after tax.

This shortfall has increased by 9% in the last year alone from £15,089 a year, or £290 a week, in 2015. This means the average pensioner’s income would now pay for less than six months of care – despite research from Saga showing the average stay in a residential home is 2.5 years.

Jonathan Bruce, Managing Director of Prestige Nursing + Care commented on the findings, ‘It is particularly alarming that care home costs have risen almost ten times as much as pensioner incomes in real terms, with the result that older people will find the challenge of paying for care even more out of their reach. Cuts to social care now also mean the vast majority of people will have to find the funds to cover the cost of care themselves, which makes it more important than ever that people start to plan their care in advance. The lack of awareness of these issues, and appetite to tackle them, illustrates the need for a sensible and mature debate on the value our society places on care.
‘Those with assets below the means-testing threshold will continue to be supported through local authority funding, but this research highlights the escalating costs for those above the threshold, as the low interest rate environment leads to reduced monthly income as care costs escalate.

‘Care workers and nurses absolutely deserve the boost they have received to their pay, but the increase in the minimum wage has no doubt pushed the cost of elderly care upwards. The UK’s ageing population means many with longer-term conditions will require care of some sort. But for many, the widening gap between costs and income will make it difficult to receive the amount and quality of care they require without substantial savings to fall back on. There is typically a reluctance to plan for care in advance, and the industry and policymakers must increase awareness of the need to prepare for the cost of care earlier on in life.
London is the region with the most expensive care homes (averaging £38,896 per year) – having overtaken the East of England (£37,908 per year) in the last year – and has also experienced the biggest annual rise in care costs of any UK region (19%).

The capital is also the region to see the shortfall in income and cost increase the most over the last year (32% or £5,408). However, the East of England remains the region with the greatest care cost versus income gap: £22,828. This has grown by £4,004 or 21% over the last year.

The shortfall (£22,828) facing care users in the East of England is 173% higher than the £8,372 shortfall seen in the North East – the smallest of any region – where care homes costs are also the lowest (£22,048). The North East is also the only region that saw the average cost of a care home fall over the last year (down by 9% from £24,232). However, pensioners in the North East still face a shortfall of £8,372 if they have to pay for residential care: this shortfall alone amounts to 61% of their annual income.