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Reforming social care the Conservative way

Shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien says the social care system is crying out for reform, and it is a Conservative government who can deliver real change.

Speaking at the annual Ageing Population conference in London last week, O’Brien said the social care system is already creaking under the pressure of the older generation, and it will worsen as 1.7 million more adults will need care and support by 2026.

He said: “The system is crying out for reform. It should work seamlessly with our NHS but instead too often people do not get  the care they need to keep them out of hospital.

“People who have been able to accrue assets should not have to see all that eaten up in care costs yet last year 50,000 people had to sell their homes to pay for the long term care.

“An incoming government will  not just have to take forward the debate on reform, but the reform itself. And there are no easy solutions.”

O’Brien suggests first that an informed debate about the costs for care is needed closely followed by detailed debate over the method for meeting those costs. He said that could include general taxation, levies on the state or optional or compulsory insurance  schemes.

He added: “Finally we must debate the method of dispersing funds. Do we give each individual a cash entitlement, do we have vouchers, do we have state commissioned provision,  do we give people a single entitlement or a needs based entitlement.”

O’Brien said the funding of social care should be on a partnership basis, combining universal non-means-tested cash benefits, personal budgets though local authorities, means-tested personal contributions and free-of-charge NHS and preventative public health services.

The Tories Home Protection Scheme is an example of how people can ensure their assets against the risk of fees for permanent residential care, says O’Brien.

He adds: “Conservatives believe that because the cost of care can be so high and the need for care so arbitrary it is right to put structures in place to share those costs. If the state is to do anything it is to coordinate a sharing of the risk of needing care at a potentially catastrophic cost level.”

Referring to Labour’s Care At Home Bill, he said the funding has not been “adequately identified”.

O’Brien also questioned the role of the newly-created Care Quality Commission.

He said: “My current concern is that the Care Quality Commission is neither concentrating on the quality of care nor putting information across the consumers in a way that enables them to make informed choices and this must be looked at.”

But going forward, he said: “Demography and the social care challenge it brings is a challenge of our generation. Conservatives are ready to meet that challenge as a priority in the next parliament.”


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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I think this is more straightforward than we’re told, but no-one has the guts to do it:

    1 stop benefits for all who haven’t paid into the system for (say) 2 years.
    2 get rid of the final salary pension scheme going forwards for all public servants. We can’t do anything about accrued benefits, but we can about the future. It’s unfair that those who create wealth and pay taxes to fund the pbulic purse can’t afford final salary schemes for their employees, but should be expected to pay for the non-producers to have them.

    3 Get rid of administratively expensive condescentions to old age – Winter fuel allowance, bus passes et al. Get rid of the public servants that administer them and use the money saved to give better pensions to those who have worked 50 years for this country and fund their LTC

    I could go on…

  2. I agree with the earlier post. Public Sector Superannuation Pensions are an outrage and if moved over to money purchase would go a long way to helping long term care issues. I won’t happen before the election because every one and his brother seems to work for the government.

  3. The comments above show a complete lack of understanding about LTC. Lads, read up on the costs of care per week for people with different illnesses/conditions….

    As the Tory spokesman said ‘…And there are no easy solutions’

    The age of the population is rising, together with advances in medicine which both mean there are more older people requiring more care moving forward. Somehow as a country we need to pay for these how do we do it?

    I like the comment above about ‘1 stop benefits for all who haven’t paid into the system for (say) 2 years.’

    Handy, so a little old lady who needs care but has not paid into the system should be left to die on the street? Ridiculous….

    The country as a whole need to debate this and sort something out moving forward, rather than brushing the ‘grey time bomb’ under the carpet.

    The number of EMI beds in the UK is actually going DOWN as the number of people needing them goes UP…. go figure that one out!

  4. John A. Douglass 3rd March 2010 at 9:27 am

    Give the civil servants the parity with the private sector that they keep demanding.

    Retirement at 65
    No final salary pension scheme
    No enhancement for early retirement with stress, (was back ache)
    No job security
    A fair days work for a fair days pay
    Reduction of pay to match similar private sector rates.
    No other taxpayer funded perks.

  5. “so a little old lady who needs care but has not paid into the system should be left to die on the street?” – Dathan Steele you have missed that the lady will have accrued benfits either in her own name or in her husband’s name.

  6. It’s a bit rich – the conservatives introduced the “sell your home or die on the street” idea in the first place!

  7. The Government talk about care funding but as usual thats all it is. From experience, my dad has dementia and went into care 14 mths ago. I have been refused full funding based on rules which to qualify you need to be in a coma or wearing a straight jacket. The social services take all dads pension and leave him with £23 per week, the care home bill me for hair cuts, chiropody and toiletries and I buy clothes and treats. My dad worked for 50 years and paid Tax & NI and this is all he is left with. It is shameful how our old people are treated if the government and councils stopped wasting money and were more accountable to the tax payer they could easily fund care needs in this country.

  8. I glad to see the traditional values of most Tory supporters are coming out yet again slightly right of the Nazi party…why do you just suggest that the old people are just shot when they are a bother – its the toffee nose rich who always moan about so simple decent human compassion – I’m all for stopping the benefit cheats and lets get a more affordable pension for new public sector workers from a certain date, but the rest of the venom and hatred to your fellow man in these comments is so disappointing

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