Experts seek non-partisan funding reform of older people’s care

A blueprint for the future funding of care for older people has been drawn up by social care experts and a cross-party group of parliamentarians in a bid to end a bitter row between the parties.

The group has produced 10 principles for long-term reform and called for cross-party agreement after the breakdown of talks over the Tories’ “death tax” campaign against the government’s refusal to rule out introducing a compulsory care levy.

Long term care of the elderly: Shaping the future is co-written by former Conservative health secretary Stephen Dorrell, former Labour health minister Lord Warner, former chief executive of the King’s Fund and Lib Dem peer Baroness Neuberger, Labour peer Lord Lipsey and Sir Derek Wanless, who wrote an influential 2006 report on the future funding of care.

They said that “reform needs to be based on cross-party agreement” and was “unsuited to partisan divide”.

They criticised proposals from all parties as partial solutions when “integrated and comprehensive reform is required”. This refers to the government’s plan to introduce free personal care at home – though not in residential care – for people with high needs, and the Tories’ proposal to insure people against the costs of residential – though not domiciliary care – through a one-off payment of £8,000.

Unacceptable burden

The group ruled out universal state-funded free care funded through general taxation as an unacceptable burden on the working population, meaning individuals would have to contribute to their care costs.

However, it also said that “risk pooling” was required to make costs affordable for individuals, which would require active state participation in the provision of care insurance, rather than “pure private market solutions”.

Like the government, and unlike the Tories, it did not rule out the integration of attendance or disability living allowance into the care system, but said current recipients of the benefits should have the choice of retaining them.

Lord Lipsey said: “We challenge all parties to support this as a framework for implementation for whichever party forms the next government.”

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