The way we, as a society, care for our elderly has to change, and relatively soon.

That’s the view of Paul Robinson, the new chief executive at Worcestershire County Council. His authority is responsible for funding care for those elderly who need it.

And like councils across the country, Worcestershire is finding it a challenge. The authority put up its share of council tax this year by nearly five per cent, with three percent ringfenced specially just to pay for adult social care.

Mr Robinson said: “Spending power has stayed about the same, but demand has risen. The numbers of those over 65 has risen exponentially.

“We have driven efficiencies but there comes a point where cost-cutting can’t go any further – there has to be a solution, and I think it has to be a national solution.”

Mr Robinson says Worcestershire, while feeling the pinch,is not in danger financially but the current system is unsustainable.

“In the next 10 or 20 years, we need to address it nationally. Somewhere the system will need more money- the question is how you bring that money to it. It might be a new insurance system, or we all have to take personal insurance, but we need to have that debate and make decisions going forward.”

The government is to bring a Green paper consultation – outlining possible new solutions – later this year. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We know the social care system is under pressure — that’s why we’ve provided an extra £2 billion funding to the sector and a further £150 million for the next year. We will shortly outline the Government’s plans to reform social care to ensure it is sustainable for the future.”

Philip Talbot chief executive of Age UK Hereford and Worcestershire wants that to go further. He said: ”The current social care system is failing and the pressures on resourcing and staffing are becoming acute. Whilst we welcome the proposal for a Green Paper for consultation on adult social care in the autumn, there needs to be action to help support those in need during the interim.

There is clear evidence that clients are suffering. There are potential solutions in the medium term but action is needed to support those in need now.”