My last blog looked at the fundamental problems behind the crisis in social care for older people. Now let’s look at the political parties election promises of how to address it.
All the opposition party’s ignore the big picture and focus on the short term issue of capturing the senior generations vote. Their common solution is to reaffirm their intention of keeping the triple lock on pensions, which ensures pensions will rise by the increase in either wages, prices or 2.5%; whichever is the greater. This does little to help the poorest pensioners and nothing to address the issues of poor quality care.
The Conservative Party did at least try to grasp the nettle. By proposing that home owners use the value of their house to pay for care, which is some thing I have long advocated. They also extended care funding to include domicillary care and raised the means test entitlement from £23,500 to £100,000. However, the details of the policy were not properly thought through and were greeted with a backlash of negative press headlines. Belatedly the Prime Minister announced there would be a cap on the total costs, but with no indication of how much that would be. What a mess !
On average people live in residual care for under three years, so might have to pay upto two years of costs themselves, say around £60,000. A cap above that would prevent them from paying the catastrophic costs of a long term illness. Hopefully the insurance industry could be encouraged to cover the intervening £60,000.
Sadly, none of this addresses the quality issues in social care nor the forthcoming dramatic rise in the population of older elderly. Once again the issue has been ducked, because politicians don’t want to lose votes by giving people bad news and older people don’t want to face up to the fact that they may not have saved nearly enough for care if they need it.