Former social services directors Jo Williams and Lord Norman Warner will be charged with shaping the future system of adult care funding, as the government announced the establishment of its Commission on the Funding of Care and Support today.
The three-person commission will be chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot, formerly head of public spending experts the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and has been tasked by the Department of Health with reporting within a year on how best to reform the care funding system.
Williams is the current acting chair of the Care Quality Commission and also a former chief executive of Mencap, while Warner is a former Labour health minister, who now sits in the House of Lords.
The DH also announced the terms of reference for the commission today. It will provide recommendations on:
• The best way to meet care and support costs as a partnership between individuals and the state;
• How an individual’s assets are protected against the cost of care;
• How public funding for the care and support system can be best used to meet needs;
• How to deliver the preferred option including implementation timescales and impact on local government.
Dilnot, Williams and Warner will be advised by two independent expert panels, one comprising academics and the other representatives from the financial services industry.
Dilnot (pictured, right) said: “How we best look after those who need care and support is one of the most pressing social policy challenges facing our society today. With more people living longer, we urgently need to find a fair and sustainable way to pay for the care which many of us will need. There are not going to be any easy answers, and I know difficult decisions will have to be made.”
The commission’s brief, as set out in the coalition government agreement, is to consider a range of ideas and to provide advice on how to implement the best option. These will include both a voluntary insurance scheme as favoured by the Conservative Party and the Lib Dem-backed scheme for the state to meet the bulk of personal care costs, with individuals funding the rest, as set out by Derek Wanless in his landmark 2006 report for the King’s Fund.
Autumn White Paper
The government said it intends to publish a White Paper next October, bringing together the conclusions of the commission and those of the Law Commission on the reforming the law on adult social care. This will be followed by legislation in the 2011-12 parliamentary session.
Warner’s presence on the commission suggests a rapprochement between Labour and the Tories following the acrimonious pre-election debate on long-term care, in which the Conservatives accused the Labour government of planning a “£20,000 death tax” to pay for care.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley, who was at the heart of the row, said today: “By 2026, the number of 85-year-olds is projected to double. In the next 20 years we estimate that 1.7 million more people will have a potential care need than today.
“We know that one in five 65-year-olds today will need care costing more than £50,000, which could force many to sell family homes.
“The answer is clear – we must develop a funding system for adult care and support that offers choice, is fair, provides value for money and is sustainable for the public finances in the long term.”