The Welsh assembly government today opened a national debate on the future of adult care funding, which will inform a green paper due out next year.
A rapidly ageing population in Wales and social changes have created a need for major reform, according to social services minister Gwenda Thomas.
Launching the five-month consultation at the assembly’s headquarters in Cardiff, Thomas called for a wide-ranging debate on how a predicted “large funding gap” in meeting the cost of care could be bridged.
Compulsory saving scheme floated
Professionals and the public will be asked for their views on how responsibility for funding should be shared between individuals, families and the state, with a possible solution being a compulsory saving scheme for the public.
Other discussion points include the merits of local flexibility versus national consistency, and whether the future model should be the same for everybody, or adapted to people’s varying needs.
Rising demand for care
Thomas pointed to “major” demographic changes that would increase demand for care services, with official estimates suggesting that the number of over-85 year olds in Wales will increase by almost a third over the next ten years, from 72,000 to 93,000.
“We have to think very carefully about how the care system will need to change in order to ensure that future needs and demands are appropriately met,” Thomas said.
She added: “It is therefore essential that as many people as possible – of all ages and backgrounds – join in the debate and have their say.”
Twin green papers
The consultation process will be overseen by an advisory group including representatives of councils, the NHS, care providers, and groups representing children, carers, older people, and disabled people.
The UK government’s six-month public debate on the future of care and support in England, launched by Gordon Brown in May, closes this month, which will inform a green paper next year.
Findings from the assembly government’s consultation, will inform both the UK government’s green paper and a separate green paper for Wales.
- How do you think care funding should be reformed in England and Wales? Have your say on CareSpace.
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Care and Support: funding options for long-term care
Join the debate at the Paying for Care in Wales website