Watch on… Long term care funding

Government launches adult social care funding commission

A  three-person commission has been tasked by the Department of Health with reporting within a year on how best to reform the care funding system.  It includes Jo Williams, current acting chair of the Care Quality Commission and former director of social services and chief executive of Mencap;  Lord Warner , former director of social services and Labour health minister, who now sits in the House of Lords;  and economist Andrew Dilnot, formerly head of public spending experts the Institute for Fiscal Studies , who will chair the commission. Dilnot, Williams and Warner will be advised by two independent expert panels, one comprising academics and the other representatives from the financial services industry.

The commission will provide recommendations on:

• The best way to meet care and support costs as a partnership between individuals and the state;

• How an individual’s assets are protected against the cost of care;

• How public funding for the care and support system can be best used to meet needs;

• How to deliver the preferred option including implementation timescales and impact on local government.

The commission’s brief, as set out in the coalition government agreement, is to consider a range of ideas including both a voluntary insurance scheme as favoured by the Conservative Party and the Lib Dem-backed scheme for the state to meet the bulk of personal care costs, with individuals funding the rest, as set out by Derek Wanless in his landmark 2006 report for the King’s Fund. It also appears that compulsory schemes are not ruled out. A DH spokesman said: “We do not wish to constrain the commission from considering other options, such as compulsory schemes”.

A white paper is planned for next October, to be followed by legislation in the 2011-12 parliamentary session.  With current cutbacks in public spending,  finding a sustainable way forward will be a huge challenge. Let’s hope that this time the parties will pull together and finally deliver a fair solution to this long running issue.

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