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Election social care proposals: Are any really credible?

Blog post 31 May 2017

The long road to social care reform appears to be getting longer. So far in the last 19 years we’ve got through 12 Green Papers, White Papers and four reviews.

Frankly, the track record on social care policy with a succession of government is  . . . rubbish.

It disturbs me there seems little common ground between the three parties vying for power, though I do note both Labour and the Lib Dems appear to be moving towards a single integrated service for health and care with a pledge on a cross-party consensus for long-term funding.

My big question is where will the money come from? We have a growing problem, a sector in tailspin decline – even CQC has warned of a looming tipping point `– and more and more care providers closing.

Labour appears to favour more tax for the rich and big companies, while the Lib Dems want a 1per cent tax increase and maybe a care tax in the long term.

Okay, I understand, but there’s no indication of what will be enough money to sustain future social care, or whether, indeed, it would solve the current crisis.

That leaves me musing on the Conservative election pitch for social care. Howe things change. In 2013 a pillar of health policy was capping care costs.

Now with what the King’s Fund describes as an “inverting of the policy” are expected to spend down their own money (including the value of property) until they are left with £100,000.

Let me quote Richard Humphries, King’s Fund Senior Fellow (Policy): “The direction is clear – access to services will depend on a triple lottery of where you live, what you can afford and what is wrong with you (develop cancer or heart disease but not dementia and your house and savings will be intact).”

Absolutely right.

Such policy raises so many social questions. Undoubtedly, people will be discouraged to seek help in attempts to preserve their estates thus increasing the probability of more unplanned hospital admissions. And then what’s going to happen to the learning disabled and physically disabled who are working age and without assets?

We are, I fear, at point where the two tier system – the haves and have-nots – of both care providers and those needing their services will not change. We have focused much on care quality (a good thing), but the care of the future will zone in more on the choices we are prepared to make.

There is no socio-economic policy in place that can generate the funds needed to pay for all those who need care. What I’ve read so far from all parties does not change that.

Where are the costed proposals? Without such information are any of them remotely credible?


Debbie LeQuesne