The need for a real shake-up in long-term care has never been more apparent. Britain is undergoing a demographic transformation that will see a dramatic ageing of the population.
For the first time, over-65s outnumber under-16s and by 2030 there will only be two people of working age for each person in retirement. This compares with a ratio of four workers per pensioner today.
Working out how we fund support for our ageing population is of paramount importance to individuals and their families but also to local authorities, the health service and the taxpayer, who are ultimately responsible for looking after those who cannot afford to pay themselves.
The issue of how the UK pays for the care of our elderly has burst to the forefront of the political debate in the last six months and is set to remain there long after next year’s general election. Current funding arrangements are not working and all the major political parties agree that major reform is necessary.
A range of providers have expertise which can help shape the debate and it is vital that they all participate fully in the policymaking process.
The shifts in the UK’s demographics provide a number of opportunities for insurance brokers and IFAs.
Providers and advisers, along with care homes and local authorities, have a real duty to raise public awareness of available products which ensure that elderly people do not use up all their assets to pay for long-term care. These products exist now and yet we still see hundreds of self-funders a year run out of money and fall back on the state.
Tackling this will benefit individuals who face difficult decisions at a vulnerable stage of their life, relieve pressure on the public purse and demonstrate that the financial services sector can offer solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing this country.
Chris Horlick is managing director of care at Partnership Assurance