Social care system needs more funds
Taxing wealthy older people could provide money to prop up the social care system, according to a health report.
The Nuffield Trust, a health care think tank, said more public funds will have to be found to stop vulnerable older people from falling through the net and to support those who face high, unpredictable care costs.
Without urgent reform of the social care funding system, the report said, spending on social care will have to rise from £14.6 billion in 2010/11 to £23 billion in 2025/26.
While much of that money can be found from the £140 billion of state funding already spent on older people, higher taxation of more wealthy older people could be needed.
It suggested the shortfall could be plugged by restricting some of the universal benefits, such as the winter fuel allowance, and free TV licences and bus passes.
On top of that, it said the government should shift some of the health budget towards social care, which together would create a larger pool of shared public money to pay for care services. A cap on the cost of lifetime care to individuals of between £35,000 and £50,000 is also being considered by the government following the Dilnot report last year.
Anita Charlesworth, chief economist of the Nuffield Trust, said: ‘It is clear that to meet the needs of an ageing population and tackle the perceived unfairness in the current system, both individuals and the government will need to spend more on social care.’
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘Helping older people to stay in their homes and live as independently as possible is better for them and the public purse.
‘Yet one key element of good care that is overlooked in the current care system is that housing is essential to improving social care. Linking up with housing and support providers can reduce demand on the care system and improve the reach and results of care services.’
In a second report published today, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said specialist housing does not reflect the choices the 7.3 million older people in the UK need to make.
‘Our research confirmed that there is limited choice for older people who want to move to both specialist and alternative mainstream housing, in terms of tenure, location, size, affordability and type of care or support,’ the report said.
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