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Symponia sets out choice to end LTC political battle

Long-term care specialist Symponia has hit out at politicians for their public battle over how to fund personal care for the elderly.

Earlier this month, Health Secretary Andy Burnham called for a cross-party conference on how to fund care for the elderly following a public fallout on the issue with other parties.

But Symponia joint managing director Janet Davies says the squabbling is a clear signal that the parties have not got “the first clue” about how to address this issue and questions why Burnham is calling for a cross-party meeting.

She says: “Either they know they will lose the election or they know their plans are completely unworkable. In fact, none of the parties has put the fiscal calculation behind their rhetoric. Cross-party discussions are a good way forward, so long as there is commitment behind the gesture. Paying lip service to the problem wont help anyone.”

Burnham’s call for a cross-party meeting came in a clash with Tory Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley on BBC One’s Politics Show.
Viewers witnessed Labour’s anger over the Tories poster campaign suggesting the Government is looking to introduce a 10 per cent levy on death to fund long-term care.

Burnham said the idea was one of a number of proposals the Government put forward in a green paper last summer. Other options included a voluntary insurance scheme and a partnership scheme between industry and individuals.

Janet Davies says a death tax is “ludicrous” and “highly implausible”. She says: “Just who will pay for the care in the meantime? Why should the care homes wait for years for what will probably be a fraction of the fee?”

Davies suggests a number of alternatives to solve the funding issue.

She says: “In our opinion, the most feasible solution includes bits from both of the two main parties. First, establish the National Care Service, along the lines of the existing NHS. That way, everyone will know what they will get in terms of weekly or monthly contributions.

“This could be partly funded by replacing attendance allowance and nursing care allowance.”

Davies says those people wanting to pay for care at a higher level could pay for it themselves if and when they need it. She also suggests paying on a pay-as you-go basis or using a dedicated immediate care plan purchased via an IFA.

The other alternative is to create some form of Government-backed voluntary insurance plan.

She wrote to Burnham last year to offer Symponia’s insight into the long-term care market but his department declined the offer. However, she also wrote to Conservative Shadow Health secretary Andrew Lansley who invited Symponia to meet with his office.

She says: “MPs must learn that there is much to be gained by embracing the views of a wider audience, such as advisers and experienced specialists who, like myself, have spent the past 18 years listening and watching exactly what families have to go through when care is needed.”

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