Call for free minimum level of care

Older people in England should be guaranteed a minimum level of care to ensure a more equitable system for all, Sir Derek Wanless’s (pictured) long-awaited report into future care for the group recommends today (Thursday).

Derek Wanless 2

The former NatWest banker, who previously led a review of NHS funding, says the government should scrap means testing for older people’s care and introduce a “partnership model” of funding.

Under this proposal, a guaranteed minimum level of care would be provided free. Individuals could then make contributions matched by the state until agreement is reached on a benchmark, or “economically justified”, care package.

People with low incomes would be helped to make their additional contributions through benefits.

Wanless said that the cost would require total public and private social care spending to rise from the 2002 level of £10.1bn (1.1 per cent of gross domestic product) to up to £31.3bn (2 per cent of GDP) by 2026.

He said the current system was a “safety net for poorer people” but that good social care “should be about much more than that”.

His recommendations would require “substantial growth” in the supply of services and a wider review of the benefits system.

The report says the partnership model, if introduced now, would enable up to 450,000 more older people in England to access social care on top of the current one million.

It also claims more people would be better off under this model than through a free personal care policy such as that in Scotland although the care package on offer in England would be more comprehensive.

The latter would cost more from  the public purse, it adds. And the  partnership model would empower people to express themselves because they would be charged for care.

The review also considered a third model of limited liability, where care would be means-tested for the first three or four years then free.

It estimates the number of people aged 85 and over in England will increase by two-thirds over the next 20 years, while there will be at least a 54 per cent rise in the number of older people with high levels of need.

Wanless said: “We need to ensure that all older people are able to remain as healthy and independent as possible. But the current system is failing to do this and is too focused on a small number of older people with the most significant social care needs.”


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