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Hundreds of thousands ‘trapped’ in debt and unable to pay for social care, GMB study reveals

The report finds 166,835 people are in arrears on their social care payments

Hundreds of thousands of people are “trapped” in debt and facing legal trouble because they cannot afford to pay for social care, research by the GMB union found today.

The report, which is based on freedom of information requests submitted to local authorities by the union, reveals that at least 166,835 people are in arrears on their social care payments.

Councils have initiated debt management procedures against more than 78,000 people for non-payment and nearly 1,200 people have already been taken to court.

The union believes that the true figure is likely to be much higher, as some authorities did not respond.

GMB national officer Sharon Wilde said that these figures highlight how the “ticking time bomb” in social care cuts has now “blown a gaping hole” in the financial management of thousands of working class families.

She said: "The fact more than 1,000 people have been taken to court because they're unable to pay for their own care or that of their loved ones shows the system just isn't working.”

Despite an ageing population, the social care sector is rapidly decreasing, with figures released in 2017 suggesting that as many as 49 per cent of front-line care jobs have vanished since 2011.

Ms Wilde urged the need for a “clear, coherent” strategy for funding social care in order to help reverse “acute” levels of staff shortages.

A Local Government Association spokesperson called on the government to “address the immediate pressures impacting on the system today.”

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