Labour wary of signing up to care funding consensus

The government has refused to join a growing political consensus over the reform of long-term care funding by signalling that the forthcoming green paper will not contain the Wanless partnership model.

Care services minister Ivan Lewis told a parliamentary meeting last week that while the government supported a “fairer funding settlement” for adult social care, this would be likely to include a “significant number of self-funders”.

This suggests the government opposes any universal system of funding in which the state provides to all on the basis of need.

The universal model was the position taken by Derek Wanless in his landmark 2006 report for the King’s Fund, which called for the introduction of a partnership model, splitting personal care costs between the state and individuals (see The Partnership Model).

Dropping support

This system was backed last week by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, dropping his party’s support for free personal care, while leading Conservatives have backed Wanless although it is not yet official party policy (see Parties’ position).

Clegg said: “We are the first party with serious plans to end the poverty that afflicts the many elderly people forced to pay for their personal care entirely out of their own pockets.”

The current means-tested systems for residential and domiciliary care has been criticised for forcing people with moderate savings to meet the full costs of care. In England, anyone with savings of more than £21,500, must pay full residential care costs.

More realistic alternative

The Wanless model also appears to have secured public support, with a survey this month by the Caring Choices coalition  finding strong support for a system in which care costs were mainly funded by the state, but with some cash input from individuals.

Disability charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, which traditionally has supported free personal care, said it recognised that in the current funding climate this would be difficult to achieve politically, with Wanless a more realistic alternative.

But the charity’s public policy manager Guy Parckar said the model should be applied to disabled people under 65, not just older people, contrary to the position endorsed by Clegg last week.

Last week, Help the Aged, Carers UK and Counsel and Care launched a campaign to improve the social care funding system.



● All older people would have two-thirds of their personal care package
paid for by the state, topping up the remainder with matching government
contributions. Poorer people would have their contributions paid for
through the benefits system, while attendance allowance and disability
living allowance would be scrapped to fund care. As with the current system, care home fees would be means-tested. Wanless did not cover under-65s.

More from the Wanless Social Care Review


Related articles

Parties rally round Wanless for long-term solution

More information

Right care, right deal campaign

Contact the author

Caroline Lovell

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.