The Royal Commission on long term care, by a 10 to 2 majority, has recommended that all personal nursing care should be provided free to any person that needs it – i.e. with no means test – while living and household costs will potentially require a contribution.
The contribution to the 'social' element of long term care costs should be determined by available assets. Those with between £10,000 and £60,000 should be means-tested but only contribute to their 'accommodation' costs on a sliding scale. Those with assets of more than £60,000 should pay these costs in full.
The total costs of implementing these reforms would be met from taxation and would cost up to £1.2 billion per year which many have said is a dramatic underestimation.
It is estimated that the cost of providing personal care without charge in residential homes would cost the state £33 billion by 2051. It is statistics like these that strike fear into the heart of the Government.
The Government has indeed been very guarded about accepting the majority view and further consultation will undoubtedly take place. Legislation is not expected before 2001.
Many feel that the only realistic solution (as for pensions) is to encourage private provision.
A more detailed analysis of the commission`s report will be posted shortly.