People failing to plan for old age

Published on Monday, 12 March 2012 09:54
Posted by Scott Buckler

The majority of people in England are failing to plan for old age despite thinking they will need care and support in later life, according to a survey published this weekend by the LGA

As the high cost of elderly care comes increasingly under the spotlight, more than one in four people (27%) admitted having no plans for their future care while one in four (26%) say their taxes will cover the cost of support in old age. This is despite more than half (56%) of people in England believing they will need care or support as they get older.

Just weeks before the Government is expected to unveil its plans for reform in a White Paper, the survey also showed that three in five people (61%) still know very little or nothing about the national debate on adult social care and only one in seven people (14%) say they know at least a fair bit about it.

The research, commissioned by the Local Government Association, also showed there is a strong sense of uneasiness around being looked after in later life with fewer than half of people (46%) confident their future care and support needs will be fully met and just one in ten (10%) agreeing strongly that this will be the case.

This lack of confidence is made more miserable by the current economic climate with nearly three in four people (72%) saying the poor economy is making them worry about how they will be looked after into old age.

David Rogers, Chair of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "This survey sends a strong message to government that change is needed. People are increasingly worried about their care in later life but the reality is that too many of us are failing to plan for a time when we may become frailer and need an extra level of support.

"The fact that more and more people are living longer in old age or with a disability is something we should all celebrate, but under the current system those additional years can often feel more of a burden than a joy.

 "We have the best opportunity for reform of our outdated social care system in a generation, and the Government must act now to ensure future generations of older and vulnerable people can live full, happy lives and receive quality care when they need it.

"There is wide ranging consensus from across the sector that we need fundamental change, but this must also come hand in hand with root and branch reform of how the system is funded.

"Councils are committed to doing the very best for people in later life but faced with an estimated £1billion reduction in councils' social care budgets and the pressures of growing demand and escalating costs in a system that is already underfunded, even the very best efforts of councils mean we will not be able to deliver all that we used to.

"Politicians need to transcend political point-scoring and wake up to the ticking time bomb this country is facing and act now to ensure the system is fairer, simpler and fit for purpose in order to truly meet the needs of the elderly and most vulnerable in our society."

The LGA is now calling on all parts of government to signal real commitment to reform and investment in social care by going beyond the things the sector is already agreed on, such as preventative services and personalisation, and implementing the recommendations of the Dilnot commission and the Law Commission as part of its White paper in Spring.

 The Dilnot Commission proposes a cap on the amount of risk individuals will be exposed to when planning for their care costs and recommends making the means-testing system less unfair on pensioners with some assets.  The Law Commission recommends a single, clear, modern statute and code of practice for social care.

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