Tag Archives: partnership

Social care funding commission has 2 options

This blog was originally going to be about how unhelpful the newspapers’ focus on the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support’s decision to not automatically discount bringing in a “Death Tax” was, but since I started writing, the government has ruled it out completely, according to Community Care.

This isn’t a surprise, to be honest. Firstly, the government would want to defuse criticism from the newspapers that saw this as the Conservatives back-tracking on their stance from the election campaign.

But in any case, since it was christened the “Death Tax”, that idea – a compulsory levy on estates after death – would have been impossible to implement because of the backlash from the press it would get and the image it has in the public’s eye. Whether or not it was the best option is a moot point.

But on the upside this should help bring about a more reasoned debate in the media on what the funding options are – no more tub-thumping headlines screaming about the injustice of the “Death Tax”, for instance.

Many people do not understand the social care or benefits systems currently, so a clear setting out of the current regimes, along with an explanation of all the options being considered and their relative merits/downsides would be good.

Not that there is that much to cover now. Currently, there would seem to be 2 options realistically on the table; a voluntary insurance scheme and a partnership of state finance and service user finance. A system completely funded by users or by the state was ruled out by the last government and has hardly been mentioned by this one, so I think we can assume those ideas aren’t really being considered.

So, it seems as if the commission’s job is to decide which of the 2 options – or slight variations on – is better.

Considering when this last went out to consultation there was no consensus on which option was best, they have a tough job ahead.

So how does the commission decide? Perhaps they should get Harry Hill in – “There’s only one way to find out…”

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What will be in the white paper?

After what seems like an eternity, the adult social care funding White Paper will finally be published tomorrow. So what will be in it? Here is my bit of crystal ball gazing…

Firstly, it will lay out Labour’s plans for a National Care Service that provides clear national entitlements for everyone, rather than the current postcode lottery. This was first mentioned in last year’s green paper and the idea at least was widely welcomed. The White Paper should flesh out exactly what that might entail and the funding for it.

The free personal care at home policy will also be in there. This has been championed by Gordon Brown and there isn’t a chance it will be dropped now, although the timing of its introduction may be put back until after the election.

In terms of funding, I expect that a ‘partnership’ model – where the state pays a portion of care costs and the service user pays the remainder – will be proposed. In the debate over funding, this seems to have garnered the most support and is something of a ‘middle’ way – and less politically divisive than, say, putting a levy on the estate of every person.

That option is a non-starter because the Conservatives branded it the “Death Tax”. Leaving aside whether it is a good idea or not, the negative publicity already around it would make implementing it political suicide.

Funding will probably be the most controversial part of this; while it is widely accepted that the current adult social care system needs to change, funding it is the tricky bit. For instance, the free personal care at home policy has been consistently lambasted because nobody believes the government’s estimate that it will cost £670 million – some say it could be more than £1 billion.

In addition, setting up a National Care Service, and contributing to everyone’s care costs, will cost billions. In a time where government departments – including the Department of Health – are scrabbling around trying to save billions, you wonder where the money would come from.

And then there is the election. The white paper will probably become a large spoke of the election campaign, which will be a bad thing. As I’ve mentioned previously, cross-party consensus is needed if the best solution for the public is to be reached. With an election, and all the ‘our policies good, your policies bad’ mudslinging that comes with it, this is out of the question.

Of course, the election also means that the White Paper may come to nought if Labour is ousted from power. The Tories have suggested they may go for another consultation before they do anything. If there is a hung parliament, who knows what will happen to it?

So, with that in mind, tomorrow’s White Paper may make promises, but it is by no means certain that essential reform will come to the sector just yet.

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Filed under adult social care, Social care funding