THE DEBATE CONTINUES
Health committee says point scoring must stop
A report by The Commons Select Committee published 12th March 2010 says the current social care system is chronically underfunded, severely rationed, locally variable, too often of poor quality and discriminates against older people.
The report calls for fundamental reform of the social care system and says that political point scoring must stop. It is highly critical of the Government’s Free Personal Care at Home Bill which it says smacks of policy-making on the hoof and risks creating perverse incentives. Estimates of demand and cost appear low, and the reform risks being substantially underfunded. However the report also says that free care funded from taxation, which is ruled out in the green paper, should be debated to gauge whether people are prepared to pay higher taxes or wish to see tax revenue diverted from other spending.
The report concludes
“We would have liked to see all the political parties come together to map out sustainable reform, instead of indulging in pre-election point-scoring. There is still an opportunity, though, in advance of the demographic challenges to come, to reform social care, achieving consensus and creating a lasting solution. “
Kings Fund supports partnership model
While demonstrating that the cost of the social care system is set to double over the next 15 years with no improvement in outcomes, a new report by the Kings Fund,Securing Good Care for More People: Options for Reform proposes a revised version of the ‘partnership model’ as the fairest way of funding social care in the future, updating the recommendations of the review of social care by Sir Derek Wanless published in 2006. This would see the state guaranteeing to pay 50 per cent of everyone’s care costs and ‘matched funding’ for individual contributions to encourage people to save for old age. The reforms proposed by the Fund would halve unmet need by significantly increasing the amount of care people receive and would see around 50 per cent more people helped than under the current system.
The report recommends a staged approach to funding reform: a fundamental review of spending to produce a new settlement for older people; delivering more personalised care and support; and political consensus through an all-party road map for reform.
..and this is what service users say about funding social care
Service users often aren’t involved in discussions about social care funding, yet they will be most affected by any changes to the current failing system.
In 2009, 18 adult social care service users were brought together to explore proposals for funding social care in the future. A Joseph Rowntree Viewpoint reports their views, including:
- Service users feel that a false divide between social care and health care is perpetuated by conflicting funding arrangements.
- Almost all service users consulted think general taxation is the best way to fund social care.
- Service users reject any withdrawal of existing universal disability benefits, such as the Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance, to fund means and needs tested social care.