So who’s really going to have to pay for social care?

Yesterday saw another report taking a long hard look at the state of social care in England – this time the Nuffield Trust in Reforming social care: options for funding. The hard truth is this: we all know social care needs more money and none of us want to give it.  Those of us involved in the care system already, one way or another,  generally think it should be paid for by taxpayers. Like  the NHS, we want it to be there when we need it – free at the point of use. That sounds great and I’ll continue to tell anyone who’ll listen that it’s what people want, but if I’m being honest with you, it just isn’t going to happen.

There is no appetite within government for putting taxes up – even under Labour in the good times in England, free care was never really up for discussion ( unlike our Scottish friends). With a  Conservative-led administration, and in these austere times, we just have to face facts that it’s not on the table.

So what are the other options? The Nuffield Trust have come up with a few. As you might know  Andrew Dilnot suggested a cap of £35k on the amount an individual might have to pay for their care once they reach “substantial” level of need (this would be lower for people who have care needs earlier on in life. Well maybe we could increase this, but would this reduce the effectiveness of the whole proposal?  We want people to think it’s a manageable amount to plan for so they don’t leave care in their older years completely up to chance.

Other options suggested are redirecting the NHS underspend to care . I’m all for that, but I find it hard to believe the NHS  has all that spare cash sloshing around. We found it hard enough to get them to tell us about the £100m  they were supposed to be spending on support for carers last year. And you know what happens when you discover you might have to give cash back if it’s not spent – you suddenly find a hundred useful things to do with it, so that suddenly – surprise!  – the cash is gone.

The other area they suggest is the one which might be most controversial. They suggest that a lot of benefit payments go to older people who are quite wealthy and don’t really need them, so we could claw some of this back and use it to pay for care for others. I can hear the sharp intake of breath happening in older peoples’ circles all round the country. Whilst in principle I think we all understand that benefits are there to ensure a reasonable standard of living for everyone, and that £100 might be a whole income for one person for a week but might be pin money for someone else, I still think this would cause massive political ructions. I don’t think any politician, particularly  the Tories with the demography of their voting base, will be queuing up for the outpouring of grey rage that would ensue.

The trouble is that whatever sector of the population is hit, someone will object. Of course they will. If it’s carers who are hit I will be first in line to shout the odds  to defend carers’ incomes. But if we all just focus on defending our own patches, nothing will change.

So what’s the solution? If the spare cash in the NHS really exists then, sure,  let’s get out hands on it but even if we do it won’t be enough. I think we all need to ask ourselves some hard questions and decide what price we’re prepared to pay for a fairer system.  So tell me – who do you think should give?


May 31, 2012 - Posted by | Social Care | , , , ,


  1. There is one simple answer to the big question from your article and that is

    CARERS WILL DO THE PAYING AS ALWAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You ask at the the end of your article ” So tell me – who do you think should give?”
    AGAIN it is and will be CARERS who PAY for and GIVE of themselves,
    Year after year CARERS save this country a vast fortune BUT nobody ever ask what it costs the CARERS. Recentl;y i have learned in a personal way what that cost can be,
    I am still taking medication for severe depression and only just recently completed a period of one to one counselling.

    I like many CARERS face a very difficult and uncertain future with the benefit system being turned inside out and a goverment hell bent on cost cutting to be payed for bt the CARERS of this nation


    WHAT HOPE FOR ME??????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Taras Kurylak | June 1, 2012 | Reply

    • I agree, Taras, that carers will pay. It’s clear from all the government rhetoric that they are expecting families to pay, to care and to cope.

      Comment by charles47 | June 3, 2012 | Reply

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