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Supporting vital funding at House of Lords

08 February 2011

Two of the region's leading housing and care organisations have voiced their concern at an event at the House of Lords, as they called on the coalition government to back housing and care choices for older people by protecting vital funding streams.

Pictured left to right: Nick Abbey (ExtraCare's Chief Executive), Baroness Julia Neuberger, Charlotte Geyer (Resident at New Oscott Village), Lord Bill Morris and Tom Murtha (Midland Heart's Chief Executive).

Members from Midland Heart and The ExtraCare Charitable Trust were joined by Baroness Julia Neuberger and Lord Morris of Handsworth to outline how funding needs to be ring-fenced to ensure older people have access to high quality care and housing. The call to action comes amidst fears that cuts to public funding will impact on the vulnerable, including the provision of care facilities.

Lord Morris urged the government to protect local authority care funding, powerful financial support from the Homes and Communities Agency and Department of Health, and lifeline benefits such as Attendance Allowance.

"The number of older people in our society is growing and so will the demand on housing and care. People should have choices that promise a quality of life which they can look forward to with optimism as they grow older," said Lord Morris.

"If vital funding streams are lost, older people will suffer the harsh reality of the consequences. Housing, independent living and the right level of care all add up to good quality of life."

The urgency for action is clear following the recent findings of a Supporting People survey carried out by the Association of Adult Social Services.

The survey, covering 70 local authorities, found 82 per cent of local authority commissioners said that "little or no protection" would be given to their supported housing programmes when budgets are set this year. As the money is not ring-fenced, councils may have to divert funding to other areas.

Baroness Neuberger said policy change was also needed to harness untapped resources locked-up in older people's housing equity, which could be used to deliver quality services that people value.

The Baroness recently visited the £30.5m St Crispin Village in Northampton, a 270 home mixed-tenure scheme which offers an award-winning Well-being service, on-site care and over 40 activities per week to its customers.

"Mixed-tenure, extra-care schemes such as St Crispin Village can provide better homes, improved community facilities and assessed care that is tailored to meet individual needs. Such schemes offer a creative environment where personal fulfilment and community participation are a part of everyday life," said the Baroness.

"I met residents living at the Village and you get the impression that this is a place where older people have fun. It is a place with magical quality."

Both Midland Heart and The ExtraCare Charitable Trust argue such schemes should be the future of the UK's care system.

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