The UKs social care sector is being propped up by care homes charging those that can afford to pay for themselves more than the fees paid by councils to fund residents.
30 NOV 2017 | CHRIS SEEKINGS
That is according to a report released today by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which reveals 'self-funders' pay an average of £44,000 per year for care - 40% higher than councils do.
To address this, the report concludes that care homes would need to receive an additional £1bn every year, arguing that the current system is "unsustainable without additional funding".
CMA chief executive, Andrea Coscelli, said: "Without substantial reform to the way councils plan and commission care, and greater confidence the costs will be covered, the UK won't be able to meet the growing needs of its ageing population."
The research also finds the basic information and support needed for people in care homes is often not available to help them navigate the system and make informed choices.
In addition, it reveals there is too great a risk of residents being treated unfairly and in breach of their rights under consumer law, with care homes not always clear about their prices and terms and conditions.
As a result, the CMA said that:
It will be taking enforcement action and raising concerns with care homes to ensure they are complying with the law
It will consult on new guidance on fees charged after death, along with the standards care homes should abide by
Councils should improve planning and commissioning for sufficient new care homes to boost investor confidence
Care homes must systematically provide better information on key factors such as the costs and choices available
Regulators should take a greater role in ensuring care homes are held to account, providing more effective consumer protections for residents and easier complaints processes.
"We will be taking steps to assist care homes in understanding their obligations, but we are also taking enforcement action now on some issues where we believe the law is being broken," Coscelli added.
This comes after research from Aegon found that just 21% of adults anticipate they won't need social care in old age, suggesting the overwhelming majority are facing up to the prospect.
It was also found that almost nine in ten believe there should be an absolute limit to the amount an individual pays, and most are unwilling to sacrifice their home.
"While it's grudgingly accepted that preparations for Brexit are leaving little room for any significant new policies, there will always be a reason to delay," Aegon pensions director, Steven Cameron, said.
"Social care funding will be a key societal issue impacting millions of us long after Brexit is a footnote in the history books."