Public fears ‘shifting goalposts’ in long-term care funding

Published on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 12:00
Posted by Scott Buckler

The public wants a clear message from the Government on how much they will have to pay for care in their old age, research carried out for the Commission on Funding of Care and Support has found (May 18th)

While the majority of people in our research believe both the Government and the individual have a responsibility to contribute to long-term care costs, they want clarity on exactly what they will be expected to pay, along with simple ways to support them in planning for this.

Many pointed to the economic context as leaving them wary about ‘shifting goalposts’ and their main concern was that whatever the final settlement, it must be sustainable to allow them to plan ahead.

Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the Commission, said:

“This research demonstrates exactly why reform of funding for care and support is needed. Too many people are not able to plan for the kind of care and support they would want because of confusion over how the current system works. Certainly, the system we have at the moment isn’t one to be proud of and it won’t be able to cope with future demands

“But people weren’t downcast about the future, they were enthusiastic about finding a workable solution to the funding challenge. Most people are happy to contribute towards the cost of their long-term care, but they want a simpler system which gives them greater certainty over what the state will provide and what their responsibilities will be.

“We’re hearing that people accept that there are no easy answers: what’s most important is that we come up with a lasting settlement.”

Other issues raised by the study, which included workshops, group discussions and face-to-face interviews with almost 200 people, included:

  • Significant variation in individuals’ awareness of what care and support is and how it is currently funded;
  • Strong support for maintaining a safety net for the poorest and those with the highest needs;
  • No assumption for the family to take the burden of care but flexibility and support for those who wanted to care for relatives.
  • The threshold at which people have to start paying for their care, which is currently £23,250, was considered to be too low;
  • Support for some kind of limit on potential costs so people could protect housing and other assets
  • People would like to be able to plan and prepare in different ways. The most favoured approaches in our research were via pensions and insurance.

The research will inform the work of the Commission, chaired by Andrew Dilnot, which is looking at how to reform the system for funding care and support and is due to report to the Government in July 2011.

Social care helps people to be independent, active and healthy throughout their lives. It is about helping people to do day-to-day things like cooking, shopping and living in their own home or funding for residential care where necessary.

The main users of care and support services are:

  • People who have had an accident
  • People who have a long term illness
  • People with a disability
  • Older people
  • People with learning disabilities

Contrary to what many people expect, help with personal care is not fully covered by the State. The social care system in England provides care and support through a means-tested system delivered at the local level by local authorities. Very broadly, under this system, people with assets over £23,250 receive no state support and need to fund their own care. The level and type of state support for people with assets below this threshold depends on their needs and income.


Source: DH

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