Cuts could hit support for carers in Hertfordshire

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Spending cuts could hit the large numbers of pensioners looking after elderly people in Hertfordshire, a charity claims.

Research conducted for the BBC by Experian found 13.4% of pensioners provided unpaid care for an older person in St Albans.

Across England 11.8% of pensioners provide unpaid care to friends or relatives.

According to Age UK Hertfordshire this care could be affected by planned cuts.

Marion Birch, chief executive of Age UK Hertfordshire, said she has seen an increase in the number of elderly carers in the county.

'Practical support'

"It is very common particularly for older people looking after a spouse but as people are living longer it could be a son or daughter looking after their parents," she said.

Ms Birch said the organisation provided "a lot of emotional and practical support" for carers.

She said there were concerns about the cuts being made by the county council following the government's Spending Review.

"Over the next four years [the county council plans to] save £200m," she said.

"It is going to have an impact on bodies like ourselves. Certainly it is going to be a challenge."

She said Age UK in Hertfordshire is helped by 650 volunteers.

The support provided by the charity includes providing advice on benefits carers are entitled to as well as providing support for carers.

The organisation also provides help to allow carers to have some time away from the person they are caring for.

The research shows Milton Keynes is expected to see the greatest future growth in its population aged over 50 - a 2.3% average annual growth by 2009 and 2029.

Jane Palmer, chief executive of Age UK Milton Keynes, said the charity was "very, very worried" about how the cuts would hit services.

She said she had particular concern about continued funding for a project run to help the emergency service staff and council officers visiting elderly peoples' homes report any concerns.

"For example if the fire services go into a building they can report back to us that a step's wobbly," she said.

Age UK in Milton Keynes could then arrange for the step to be repaired.

Angela Hart, from Buckinghamshire Age Concern, said there was concern cuts will hit day centres in the county.

"They are highly valued and there is a need for them as many [elderly people] feel socially isolated," she said.

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