About 8 in 10 of us will need some care and support in our later years. For many of us, that may mean some help to carry on living independently but for some it may mean an extended stay in a residential or nursing home. For those who have worked hard all their lives and built up some assets which they hoped to pass on to their children, it may mean having to sell those assets to pay for their care while others who haven’t worked get their care for free.
That can’t be right and beyond this specific problem about people having to sell their homes the care system in general is in urgent need of reform.
Yesterday, the Government took the first step in delivering that reform, publishing a White Paper, a draft Care and Support Bill and a progress report on its pledge to reform funding for social care. Three key principles underlie its proposals:
• first, the care system should promote independence rather than waiting till people reach a crisis before intervening. Helping people to continue living in their own home is better for them and less expensive;
• second, people should have a legal entitlement to a personal budget so that they have control over their own care and support plan
• third, there should be a ‘cap’ on the amount individuals must pay for their care.
The Government has also announced additional money to support its reforms - £300million to support the integration of health and social care services on top of the £2.7billion that it has already made available over this Parliament and £200million to support the development of new specialised housing to help people live independently for longer.
But at this stage, given the state of the public finances, it is not in a position to say how it is going to implement the third principle of a cap on the amount we all have to pay. Identifying how this is going to be done is an urgent priority - this problem has dragged on for years.
If you’d like to read the White Paper and associated documents, you can do so here.