Older people are overwhelming in favour of spreading the future costs of care across the working population rather than placing the onus on service users, Age Concern said today.
A study commissioned by the charity found strong support for using ring-fenced national insurance contributions to pay for the mounting costs of care. The report is designed to inform the forthcoming green paper on the future funding of care, which is due this spring and will attempt to address the impact of increasing demand for and expectations of care.
The Age Concern study, based on a series of focus groups held around the country by consultants Opinion Leader, uncovered universal dissatisfaction with the current means-tested system of funding care.
Participants said they believed it to be unfair and that it penalised thrifty and hard-working people.
When presented with four alternatives, 86% of participants said that ring-fenced NI contributions would be the simplest and fairest approach. Ninety-six per cent also said that such a scheme should be compulsory.
There was strong opposition to a proposal by the International Longevity Centre UK for a national care fund, an idea that has been championed by Counsel and Care. Under this scheme those who reach the age of 65 would join the fund with a one-off payment of around £15,000.
Participants in the Age Concern research described the scheme as “depressing”, “a big shock” and even “likely to give someone a heart attack”.
The two other funding models put forward – the introduction of an over-40s income tax and payment on death – also proved unpopular.
Age Concern director general Gordon Lishman said: “Older people do not want to gamble their independence, dignity and life savings in the care lottery. They want to share the risk to limit the costs they might face and to improve the quality of care for all.”