The coalition Government is to establish a commission on long-term care, which will report on its findings within a year.
The coalition last week published an official programme for government, confirming that the LibDems’ proposals for a commission will go ahead.
During the election campaign, the LibDems pledged to immediately establish an independent commission to develop future proposals for long-term care that would attract allparty support.
The Conservative party said in its manifesto it would introduce a one-off, voluntary insurance premium of £8,000 to protect homes from being sold to fund residential care.
The coalition will consider a number of ideas under the commission, including the Tories’ voluntary scheme and a plan developed by Derek Wanless in 2007.
Wanless’s plan is based on a partnership model that guarantees elderly people a payment to cover the majority of their care costs. Individuals are then enc-ouraged to top up their care package by making private contributions which would be matched by the state up to a maximum level.
The coalition says: “We understand the urgency of reforming the system of social care to provide much more control to individuals and their carers and to ease the cost burden that they and their families face.
“We will establish a commission on long-term care to report within a year. The commission will consider a range of ideas, including a voluntary insurance scheme to protect the assets of those who go into residential care and a partnership scheme as proposed by Derek Wanless.”
Zurich Financial Services principal of Government and industry affairs Matthew Connell says the commission is a victory for the LibDems.
He says: “This seems much closer to the LibDem position on long-term care than the Conservative position. During the leadership debates, Nick Clegg said that no party had a suitable solution for long-term care and there needed to be a commission to come up with cross-party consensus on the issue.
“A year sounds like a long time but it is significantly less than Labour’s royal commission on long-term care that was set up in 2007, which ran for a number of years. I think, considering the timeframe, the commission is right to look at proposals that are already fairly well dev-eloped rather than trying to come up with a new solution from scratch.”
LTC product provider Partnership managing director of care Chris Horlick says he is pleased the commission has a focus on two specific solutions for long-term care. He says: “My initial reaction was, oh no, not another commission but the coalition has committed to a report within a year and it appears that the commission will be quite focused on a voluntary insurance scheme and a partnership scheme.
“Both options are eminently suitable and are clearly req-uired. We supported the partnership proposal put forward by Derek Wanless but we very much welcome the fact that both options are being looked at and we would support both.”
Horlick says while a report may be published 12 months after the formation of the commission, any solution will have to go through a period of discussion before it can be implemented. He adds: “What there is agreement on is that the existing system is unfair and it needs to be reformed. An increased number of people need care and they will have to cope with the fact that there will be less Government money available and people will need to be aware that they will be required to make a contribution or totally fund their own care. Advice and information is going to be a key part of any scheme.”
LTC advice firm Symponia managing director Janet Davies says: “It is all very well to say they will hold a commission but it is the action that occurs as a result of the commission that counts.
“A voluntary system will not be successful because who will pay for those people who cannot or choose not to pay into it? It is vitally important that the Government takes the views of IFAs and people within the care sector to ensure we end up with the best solution possible.”