Directors condemn refusal to fund free personal care from tax

Adult services directors have led criticisms of the government’s decision to rule out free personal care funded from general taxation in its adult care green paper.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Counsel and Care and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation cited strong public support for the “tax-funded option” in their responses to the consultation.

Action on Elder Abuse and the British Association of Social Workers voiced their backing for tax-funded social care, with the latter adding: “We are still an affluent country and this should be possible.”

The green paper ruled out free personal care because of the burden it would place on working adults, with the ratio of working-age adults to pensioners set to fall from four to one to three to one over the next 20 years.

It said the current generation of older people was the wealthiest ever, having benefited from free higher education, rising property prices and final salary pension schemes, leaving them assets to fund care.

It also proposed that all users – apart from the poorest – should have a minority of personal care costs met by the state with the rest funded by individuals, either directly or through insurance.

However, Adass said the government’s subsequent pledge to introduce free personal care at home for people with critical needs had “suggested the possibility of a significant element of tax-funded provision”.

Adass said free care was “the belief and expectation of a majority of the public”, and the argument that it would place an unfair burden on working adults could be applied to the tax-funded NHS.

The association suggested the current, more wealthy, generation of older people could be asked to contribute directly, with subsequent generations funding their own care through general taxation.

Adass president Jenny Owen said: “The baby boomer generation is in the position of having accrued more wealth than the previous generation or the next generation so maybe we should predicate a system based on that.”

Of the options proposed by government, there was strongest sector support for the comprehensive model, under which every pensioner who could afford it would pay £17,000-£20,000 into an insurance fund and receive free personal care in return. Adass, BASW and Counsel and Care gave their backing.

Respondents, including Adass, the King’s Fund, Mencap, Mind and Turning Point, also criticised the lack of focus on younger disabled adults in the green paper, compared with older people.

The consultation on the green paper closed last Friday (13 November).

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