Damian Green MP has put together a new report, Fixing the Care Crisis, for the Centre for Policy Studies, with a comprehensive proposal for funding social care.
In his report, Mr Green, who as First Secretary of State commissioned the Government’s social care green paper, argues that the current system is financially and politically unsustainable, opaque, unfair, and actively discourages local councils from investing in social care and housing for older people.
With the number of over-75s set to double in the next 40 years, the need to address this problem is – as The King's Fund recently warned – moving from urgent to critical.
Fixing the Care Crisis sets out that any reform of social care needs to:
- Provide sufficient funding to plug the gap created by an ageing population.
- Be fair across generations and between individuals, ensuring that no-one is forced to sell their own home.
- Increase the supply of care beds and the provision of retirement housing.
- Secure public and cross-party consensus.
It argues that the care system should adopt the model of the state pension – with Government providing enough support for a decent standard of care via a new Universal Care Entitlement, while encouraging and incentivising people to top-up this provision via a Care Supplement.
Fixing the Care Crisis’ aims to show that the Care Supplement will be affordable and attractive to those reaching retirement age, ensuring a steady flow of private wealth into the care home system.
It also suggests a range of methods to fill the immediate funding gap in the social care system, estimated at approximately £2.75bn. These include:
- Taxing the winter fuel allowance.
- Diverting savings from the Spending Review.
- Imposing a 1% National Insurance surcharge on those over 50.
George McNamara, Director of Policy at Independent Age, said, 'The proposed Universal Care Entitlement would need to be at a high enough level for older people to enable them to live well, not just enough to get by. This should...address the unmet care needs of the 1 million older people missing out on support as they are not eligible, according to criteria set out by government. If we are asking the public to pay more through taxation, they need to know they will get access to the care they need.
'The difficulty with splitting care between an entitlement and a supplement is that it runs the risk of a two-tier system. It is hard to predict our future care needs, and with 2 million older people living in poverty, it is crucial their care costs are fully protected too.'