Public fears ‘shifting goalposts’ in long-term care funding
The public wants a clear message from the government on how much they will have to pay for care in their old age, research carried out for the Commission on Funding of Care and Support has found.
While the majority of people believe both the government and the individual have a responsibility to contribute to long-term care costs, they want to know exactly what they will be expected to pay, along with simple ways to support them in planning for this.
Many pointed to the economic context as leaving them wary about ‘shifting goalposts’ and their main concern was that whatever the final settlement, it must be sustainable to allow them to plan ahead.
Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the Commission, said: “This research demonstrates exactly why reform of funding for care and support is needed. Too many people are not able to plan for the kind of care and support they would want because of confusion over how the current system works. Certainly, the system we have at the moment isn’t one to be proud of and it won’t be able to cope with future demands.
“But people weren’t downcast about the future, they were enthusiastic about finding a workable solution to the funding challenge. Most people are happy to contribute towards the cost of their long term care, but they want a simpler system which gives them greater certainty over what the state will provide and what their responsibilities will be.
“We’re hearing that people accept that there are no easy answers: what’s most important is that we come up with a lasting settlement.”
Other issues raised by the research study, which included workshops, group discussions and face-to-face interviews with almost 200 people, included:
- significant variation in individuals’ awareness of what care and support is and how it is currently funded
- strong support for maintaining a safety net for the poorest and those with the highest needs
- no assumption for the family to take the burden of care but flexibility and support for those who wanted to care for relatives
- the threshold at which people have to start paying for their care, which is currently £23,250, was considered to be too low
- support for some kind of limit on potential costs so people could protect housing and other assets
- people would like to be able to plan and prepare in different ways. The most favoured approaches in our research were via pensions and insurance
The research will inform the work of the Commission, chaired by Andrew Dilnot, which is looking at how to reform the system for funding care and support and is due to report to the government in July 2011.
A full report on the research findings is available on the Dilnot Commission website.