The King’s Fund today urged all political parties to back a funding solution for adult social care involving more state resources than the government has so far proposed.
In an update to its landmark 2006 report by Derek Wanless, the think-tank said its revised proposals would be affordable, even in the current economic circumstances, but also would slash levels of unmet need and promote saving.
The report comes amid ongoing conflict between the parties on social care, ahead of the forthcoming white paper on funding reform, expected next week.
Less generous than Wanless; more generous than green paper
Under the King’s Fund’s new “partnership model”, the state would fund 50% of everyone’s personal care and support costs, and provide a further £1 on top for every £2 contributed by individuals. This would mean the state contributed two-thirds of the costs of people’s care, down from the 80% envisaged in the original Wanless partnership model, but double the proportion proposed by government in last year’s green paper.
The fund said its new proposal would reduce levels of unmet need among older people by 50% relative to the current means-tested system, by providing significant state funding for existing self-funders.
It also said it was a better bet than the green paper’s proposals because it included match-funded state contributions, which it said would “nudge” people towards contributing to the costs of their care and encourage savings.
Attendance allowance reform
The think tank said state funding of older people’s care in England would be £15.5bn in 2026 under its plan, compared with £12.1bn if the current system were to remain unreformed. However, the cost of the fund’s model would be reduced to £12.6bn if attendance allowance, which is paid to disabled older people, were scrapped for new claimants on middle and higher incomes, with the public savings channelled into social care.
The fund said this could result in a better targeting of public resources.
This reform is being considered by the government but has been ruled out by the Tories. This is one of two key dividing lines between the parties, the other being the Conservatives’ opposition to a compulsory insurance system to fund individual contributions to the care system, something health secretary Andy Burnham has suggested would be in the white paper.
The King’s Fund’s senior social care fellow, Richard Humphries, said: “This report sets out a blueprint for a fairer, more generous and affordable system that we hope will form the basis of a cross-party agreement on social care reform, whoever wins the general election. If the long view is taken these proposals are affordable and achievable.”