‘Timebomb’ of care debt for family finances

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THE SOCIAL care “ticking timebomb” has blown a gaping hole in family finances, a union has warned, after an investigation revealed more than 13,000 people across Yorkshire are trapped in debt for care fees.

The GMB, which represents thousands of carers, said information released by councils in the region show 13,455 people were in arrears on the social care payments to local authorities during the past two years.

Of these, more than 7,300 have debt management procedures in place by the local authority and 53 were taken to court due to non-payment of social care debts..

GMB national officer, Sharon Wilde, said: “The fact more than 13,000 are in debt because they’re unable to pay for their own care – or that of their loved ones – shows the system just isn’t working.”

She said the ageing population had created “huge demand” for care staff, but low pay, in part due to lack of council funding, meant the sector was struggling to recruit and retain staff.

Leeds helped each of the 2,397 people who fell into arrears during the period with debt management plans - but was not able to provide figure son how many went to court.

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said it only pursues action in isolated cases. She added: “We agree with the GMB’s stance that the pressure paying for social care puts on families shows a clear national approach to care funding is needed as soon as possible.”

In Wakefield, two people were taken to court out of the 121 that went into arrears. 117 debt management plans were in place. Wakefield Council’s director of integrated care, Rob Hurren, said court action is “always a last resort”, and the two cases stated were against the third party representative for misappropriation of the service users finances.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said it is committed to ensuring everyone receives affordable and dignified care.