A new report by the Centre for Policy Studies, Fixing Social Care, has examined the three leading options for social care reform, ranking them by cost, political feasibility and impact on supply.
Written by Jethro Elsden and Alex Morton, the report concludes that, of the options in question, a pension-style model would be most cost-effective. It would also increase supply and meet the increasing demand for social care, as well as better protecting people’s assets and benefiting more families.
This model, developed with Damian Green, former Department for Work and Pensions Secretary and First Secretary of State, would see the state guaranteeing a 'reasonable' level of care and accommodation, with individuals strongly encouraged to top up their provision beyond that via insurance – paying for what they might want while the state covers what they physically need.
By 2040, the number of people needing help with daily activities is expected to increase by 67% to 5.9 million, and to 7.6 million by 2070, states the report. The think tank argues that the recent increases in funding for social care announced by Government have helped to shore up the sector in the short term, but are only a stop-gap measure.
Fixing Social Care also looks at the possibility of a capped cost model, as proposed by the Dilnot Commission, which it states would not fix the problem completely and is politically unattractive, and a fully nationalised system, which it suggests would exacerbate intergenerational unfairness and result in people receiving different levels of care.
The Rt Hon. Damian Green said, 'The failure to address social care properly has become a national embarrassment. It should be near the top of the Government’s post-COVID agenda.
'Using our successful pensions system as a model, combining a universal entitlement with strong incentives for millions of people to make their own extra provision, is the most practical route to a stable and well-resourced social care sector.'
Report co-author, Jethro Elsden, said, 'It is now urgent that we reform the social care system. The coronavirus crisis has underlined how precarious the current funding situation is. We cannot continue to go on talking about reforming the system but never getting round to actually doing it.
'If the social care sector is going to remain viable and begin to create the extra capacity to meet rising demand, both for domiciliary and residential care, then we urgently need to reform the way the system is currently funded.'