Ivan Lewis urged to use taxes to fill adult care funding gap

Adult social care staff, managers and users have overwhelmingly backed filling the future funding black hole in England through state resources rather than private contributions.

The option was backed by 92% of around 100 stakeholders who attended an event in London yesterday, one of a number of regional events held as part of the government’s six-month engagement process on the long-term reform of adult care. Just 6% thought individuals should bear the responsibility and 2% chose families.

The Department of Health has estimated that there would be a £6bn gap in public funding for care by 2027 were increases in spending to keep pace with economic growth, given the increasing numbers of older and disabled people and rising expectations of services.

Backing for taxation

Yesterday’s finding suggests strong support among the social care community for this to be either filled from general taxation or, possibly, the introduction of a social insurance system. This would involve people making mandatory contributions into a fund out of which care would be paid for.

Three-quarters of attendants at yesterday’s event worked in social care – with an even split between public and independent sector representatives – while 11% were users and 7% carers.

When asked whether they agreed that “everyone in society” should contribute to the costs of care – on a scale of one to five, with five constituting strong agreement – the average score was 4.5. This compared to scores of 2.6 for individuals’ responsibility to contribute and 2.3 for families’ duty to support the costs of relatives.

Line in the sand

Earlier, care services minister Ivan Lewis had said that the one “line in the sand” on the debate on the future funding of care was the public’s reluctance to endure increased taxation.

The DH is considering a number of options to enable increased individual or familial contributions to the cost of care, for instance stimulating the private insurance market or setting up schemes to release equity from people’s homes.

Lewis said that other issues under consideration were whether state funding should be concentrated on those people with the least means – as now – or those with the greatest needs, regardless of wealth.

The DH is also considering whether to focus public funds on people with lifelong care needs – who have lower opportunities to work and save – and expect those whose care needs come later in life to contribute to costs directly.

No funding envelope

Lewis insisted that the DH wanted to establish what the care and support system of the future should look like and then decide how it should be paid for – rather than to start with a funding envelope and settle for what was affordable.

He added that while some level of means-testing would be retained, people who have worked and saved through their lives should not be penalised.

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More information

Information on DH engagement process on the future of care and support


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