The mammoth public spending deficit is likely to prevent ministers from making significant financial commitments in the forthcoming care funding White Paper, experts have warned.
Ex-health minister Lord Warner and King’s Fund senior social care fellow Richard Humphries expressed the concern after the fund produced a blueprint for reform yesterday based on its 2006 report by Derek Wanless.
Health secretary Andy Burnham last week hinted that the White Paper, which may be published next week alongside the Budget, would back a system of compulsory insurance to fund individual contributions to the care system by older people or their estates.
However, this leaves open key questions about the level of tax-funded contributions to people’s care and the overall level of funding in future that the white paper would be expected to answer.
Warner said: “I can conceive of them producing a document, which they may or may not call a White Paper, which is a direction of travel paper, but I can’t see it being something which has much in the way of figures and is therefore highly suspect.”
He said he understood the Treasury was reluctant to make public spending commitments ahead of the election and as a result of the “real problems” in public finances.
Warner’s view was echoed by Humphries, a former Department of Health civil servant, as the King’s Fund issued proposals that would provide significantly more state funding than the government proposed in its Green Paper last year.
Key questions for the White Paper to answer
● What will be the minimum state contribution to the personal care costs of eligible users? Last year’s green paper said it would be a quarter to a third of the total, with the rest funded by individuals, directly or through insurance.
● How will this be funded? The green paper suggested the government would use money currently spent on attendance allowance.
● What will be the new national eligibility threshold for care? This will indicate how many people will be eligible now and in the future.
● How far will the state underwrite individual contributions to particularly expensive care packages?
● How much is overall funding on care expected to rise by each year? Previous modelling has assumed this will be 2% a year in real terms.