Community Care reports that Dilnot who is chairing the latest in a long, long line of consultations into care funding has heard overwhelming opposition to retaining the £23,000 savings threshold before people have to start paying towards their social care needs.
Charges for social care are a delicate political issue so not content with one report, each government seems to want to commission a dozen until they find one that says what they want to say politically.
As someone who doesn’t have any ideological issues with means-testing, I find the constant pushing of limits hard to understand.
If someone has money, surely they can and should pay for a service and if someone doesn’t have the money, the state should subsidise. Seems quite a good system.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems with the system as it is at the moment. There are lots. It is overcomplicated for a start. There is an element of the ‘postcode lottery’ about it.
The costs are increasing rapidly and, this is the rub, no-one wants to pay for social care. No-one. Whether they have £50 in the bank or £5000 or £5000000 – people have become used to receiving health care free and seem to make assumptions about the provision of social care on the same basis until they are actually made aware of the costs involved.
One of the most perfidious arguments I come across is the ‘I/my mother/my gran worked hard all her life so why should she pay when Mr Brown who has been on benefits all his life doesn’t?’.
Perhaps because you/your mother/your gran actually have the money to pay and Mr Brown doesn’t.
There is a lot of righteous indignation around in this country with people measuring what they have against what others have and what they get against what others get and seeing things as ‘unfair’. Unfair is a government that gives those who ‘have’ a free ride even if they have assets in the hundreds of thousands and restrict access to services for people who have the same and higher needs and fewer assets to pay for them.
Maybe you would prefer Mr Brown’s life of poverty on benefits or in a low paid job to your life where you’ve received a dignified wage and been able to save?
Or does it all come down to stamping ones’ foot and wanting to save your children’s inheritance?
I know this isn’t a popular view. Certainly Dilnot is going to reject it. The thought of – gasp – having to pay for social care if you have savings is such an anathema to the middle classes who have the loudest voices in the political process that it seems already to have been summarily dismissed out of hand.
The thought of having to sell the home to pay for care has been put up as the massive failing in the current system. Is it a failing? I’m not sure. The houses are are discounted from the sums if there is a partner who is disabled or over 60 living in them.
A charge can be put on the home by the local authority so the sale can be delayed until after the death of the person in question. Rental charges can be used to pay towards care fees if the family doesn’t want to sell the home.
Anyway, that’s likely to change because the home-owning electorate don’t like to pay for care for their parents when Mr Brown-on-benefits my be getting something for free.
One thing I am in favour of though, is the capping of care costs at a certain level if someone has very high needs. We used to have this in the local authority but as we’ve moved into more austere times, it has been abolished. While I think means testing is, by its nature, fairer, I don’t think anyone should be penalised if they have extremely high care needs.
The problem of course is that if people who have funds won’t and don’t pay – then who will? Why the state of course. Perhaps through the hideously conceived ‘insurance’ policies that the Conservatives dreamt-up pre-election which showed an ignorance of the details of care but could ‘insure’ someone with a lump sum payment (£8000 was suggested) against care home costs in the future. Another of Lansley’s gems. We really are seeing the measure of the man now.
I’ll be following Dilnot’s recommendations with interest. Just as I’ve tried to follow the very frequent and oft ignored proposals that have popped up again and again about the funding of long term care until the music stops and the government decides on the one that will win the most votes for them.
It’s a shame that so many games are being played in the name of ‘fairness’ where ‘fairness’ seems to only be referring to the wealthier, home-owning middle classes – but that’s where the votes are.
Cynical? Well, perhaps just a little bit!
- Taxpayers may have to pay new levy to meet future cost of care homes (independent.co.uk)
- Dilnot Commission: elderly care costs could be capped (telegraph.co.uk)