Delivering his party manifesto, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Labour will push ahead with its plans to reform social care in England but he failed to fully disclose how his proposed National Care Service will be funded.
While he elaborated on how plans to offer 400,000 people with the greatest needs free care at home will be funded, and how savings will be protected from care charges, he did not reveal how a NCS roll-out will be paid for. What he did confirm was that a National Care Service Commission will be set up to establish a fair and sustainable way of funding its plans to offer social care, which will involve a compulsory levy.
Partnership managing director of care Chris Horlick says three points are worth making here.
He says: “First, the funding commission hasn’t determined yet how the NCS will be funded in whole or part. For example there are a range of options including an important role for the private sector. Second, irrespective of the funding options considered, it will take at least 8-10 years to introduce an NCS.
“Third, and perhaps the most important is ensuring clarity among voters about what will actually be paid for by any future Government. Far too many people think that when their care costs are met free at the point of need – that this includes residential care costs. It may not – and without understanding what is actually being funded – people approaching retirement or in retirement will not be able to prepare themselves adequately for it.”
Symponia joint-managing director Janet Davies says many voters know that the current system is unfair and politicians know that adult social care is a political hot-potato and potential vote winner.
But her big concern is that after the general election social care will be tossed to the bottom of the pile.
She says: “What is very sad and far more unfair than missing facts is that the subject only ever crops up near election time. The same subject was top of the political manifesto back in 1997 when Tony Blair promised that no house would have to be sold to fund care, now some 13 years later nothing has really changed and the same-old-same-old is being spouted.”