This report from the Nuffield Trust highlights the potential future funding gap in UK social care and draws on the Dilnot Commission review of funding for adult social care to outline the possible options for reform.
The report, Reforming social care: options for funding, outlines several recommendations for how to bridge this funding gap. All include the principle that costs should be shared between the individual and society, but with the unpredictable high care costs beyond a specified individual 'cap' being funded by the state.
The recommendations are:
- Use part of the £1.5 billion NHS under-spend generated in 2011/12. The Department of Health should consider using part of this under-spend on social care to protect and extend eligibility and also support more preventative work. Both would benefit patients and carers and deliver efficiency gains for health and social care.
- Review the balance of spending across health, social care and welfare payments. The Government should consider shifting some of the health budget towards social care and also use some of the money spent on welfare benefits used by better off older people, such as the winter fuel allowances. The advantage being that it creates a larger pool of shared public money to pay for care services.
- Introduce a lifetime cap as proposed by Dilnot, but at a higher level. Raising the cap from £35,000 to £50,000 would free up as much as £600 million annually (with a further £300 million raised if the proposed contribution towards living costs were set at £10,000 rather than £7,000). Such ‘savings’ could then be used to provide most state-funded help for people with moderate needs (as opposed to just substantial and critical needs).
- If the increased costs of social care cannot be met from the £140 billion that is already spent annually by the state on older people, then some form of higher taxation may be needed. But this should be targeted at better-off sections of the older age group, in the interests of intergenerational fairness.
To access the full report, the press release on its launch and other information please visit:http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/publications/reforming-social-care-options-funding