Press Story

Embargoed: 00:01h Thursday 24 April 2014

More people needing social care than family carers available from 2017

UK social care 'gap' of more than a million without adult children to care by 2030

The number of older people in need of care is expected to outstrip the number of family members able to provide informal care for the first time in 2017, according to a new report published by the think tank IPPR today (Thursday). The report shows that the average annual cost for an older person who pays for a typical package of care has increased to £7,900 a year, an average £25,000 for home care and an average £36,000 for a nursing home.

The new report is the latest in a series from IPPR's flagship 'Condition of Britain' project on social policy. The final report from the Condition of Britain project will be published in June.

By 2030, an estimated 230,000 older people in England who need care of more than twenty hours a week could be left without family to help, according to new analysis by IPPR. The report says that the number of people aged 65 and over without children to care for them will almost double before the end of the next decade and that by 2030, there will be more than 2 million people in England without a child to care for them if needed.

The report shows that older people are not simply recipients of care they are also providing it: intensive care provided by spouses and partners is expected to increase by 90 per cent over the next fifteen years also. The report says it is difficult to see how families will be able to provide even higher levels of care in the medium to long term. The report also shows that the fact that levels of employment for women with children and those over fifty are lower in the UK than in many other OECD countries suggests that if anything there is a problem of a lack of affordable, flexible and good quality formal care, rather than family members not providing enough to care.

The report argues that UK should follow Germany, Japan and Australia in finding alternative ways to fill this gap. The report also points to best practice in Leeds. The report argues that without enough care from adult children to meet demand, more older people will instead need help from other family members, friends and neighbours, or will rely on paid care and the NHS.

The report argues that the UK needs to plan ahead, learn from other countries and build:

  • New neighbourhood networks for older people to give and receive support and offer an extra help to families and carers and reduce pressures on the NHS and social care.
  • House public services for different age groups (such as childcare and care for the elderly) under one roof, to bring generations together, as they do in Germany.
  • Invest local public health budgets in strengthening community groups in those local authorities with the weakest record for community-based care.
  • Stronger employment rights for those caring for people who need more than 20 hours of care a week, to make it easier for family members to combine work and care.
  • Care coordinators providing a 'single local point of contact' to replace the 'care management' currently provided by adult social services in every area by 2020, for all but the most complex cases of care.

Clare McNeil, IPPR Senior Research Fellow, said:

"The supply of unpaid care to older people with support needs by their adult children will not keep pace with future demand. Thousands of people in their 60s and 70s today could be left to cope on their own when they need care in the future, with overstretched services unable to make up the shortfall.

"Britain needs to build new community institutions capable of sustaining us through the changes ahead and to adapt the social structures already in place, such as family and care, public services, the workplace and neighbourhoods."

The report highlights innovative changes being made across the world as populations age:

  • The German federal government is investing in over 500 'multi-generational homes' which bring together isolated groups like mothers and baby groups, childcare, youth groups and care for the elderly under one roof.
  • In Berlin schemes encourage older people with no children or whose families live far away to become grandparents by 'adopting' children raised in single-parent families.
  • In Japan a ten-year nationwide campaign has begun to train people about the condition called the 'The Nationwide Caravan to Train One Million Dementia Supporters'.
  • In Western Australia, social care is organised around a neighbourhood care coordinator who acts as a single point of contact for all those with care needs
  • In Leeds, 'Neighbourhood Networks' are community-based voluntary organisations, run by older people, that cover the whole of the Leeds Metropolitan area and provide activities to reduce social isolation, as well as everyday care and support.

Notes to Editors

IPPR's new report - The Generation Strain – will be available from Thursday from:

IPPR's Condition of Britain interim report is available from:

The final report from the Condition of Britain project will be published in June.

The report shows that two thirds of carers over 60 have long term health problems or a disability themselves.

The report says that nearly 2 million older people will be experiencing chronic loneliness by 2033.

The report says that as more and more men live longer the number of older couples able to support each other increases. The proportion of women aged 75 and over who are widowed is projected to fall from 60 per cent in 2008 to 39 per cent in 2033, during the same period the proportion of men aged 75 and over who are widowed falls from 25 per cent to 18 per cent. Over the next 30 years, the numbers of cohabiting older people with support needs are projected to rise faster than the equivalent numbers of single people.

The report shows that around 800,000 older people who need personal care are not receiving this, either because eligibility criteria has been cut back (87 per cent of councils are now providing care only for those with 'substantial' or 'critical' needs) or because they are unable to afford paid care.


Richard Darlington, 07525 481 602,

Sofie Jenkinson, 07981 023 031,