Paying for care

It’s a (not very) merry-go-round when Local Authorities don’t get enough money from the government to properly fund social care, so that poorly or vulnerable people cannot be safely discharged from hospital, adding to the crisis in the NHS which is government funded.

Hospitals are not the best place to provide long-stay care and even cancer operations are being cancelled as hospitals have no beds.

So who should pay? Should it be central government (by raising taxes and spending more on social care)? Should it be Local Authorities, raising Council Tax bills? Or should individuals pay for themselves?

My vote is that taxes fairly targeted at the better off and properly aimed at solving the social care problem would be the answer. I am not a fan of partly political argy bargy and not a great supporter of any particular party. I don’t have the magic answer of how it would be done, but in principle I think it is a problem for society as a whole to address and, like all taxes, the better off should pay more to fill the gaps.

I do not think that a council tax hike which will hit poor and wealthy areas alike is a fair answer. In Surrey the Local Authority have proposed a referendum on a 15% Council Tax hike to fund the Social Care needs. Are they serious, or is this a political point scorer so that when the referendum is lost, they can point the finger at the government to solve the problems?

I am totally against individuals funding it themselves. Look at how it affects us in Barrow. So much of our housing is relatively low value compared to wealthier areas in the country. I see a lot of clients with houses worth £80,000 to £150,000 and with no great savings. Our incomes in retirement are generally quite low as well. Long term care costs can be £30,000 to £40,000 a year and that soon eats away at a lifetime’s work.

So, if you are unlucky enough to suffer dementia (and there seems little you can do to avoid it) and you live in a low house price area and have a low income then you will be much harder hit than if you are in a posh area with high house values, higher wages and so generally higher retirement incomes. And dementia is something that the NHS will generally not fund long term care for. Sticking everyone’s council tax bill up by £200 a year might help to spread the pain a little bit but only within our local communities and on a fairly badly targeted basis.

Until a change in the funding of social care comes about, I think it is only fair for you to reduce your chances of losing the postcode lottery by planning ahead to protect what you have got. Is that the right thing to do? I believe it is.

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