Paying for long term care

Long term care needs reform. The major parties all agree that the current system is outdated and unsustainable. They also recognise that an ageing population and changes in morbidity mean the cost of care will continue to rise. Efforts to adopt solutions are, however, stuck in the slow lane.

On coming to power the Coalition Government set up the Commission on Funding of Care and Support. The Commission will report in July and will make recommendations on how to achieve an affordable and sustainable funding system for care and support. But we have been here before. In 1997 the Labour Government made reforming the funding of social care a priority. A Royal Commission reported in 1999 and it took until 2009 for the Government to set out options for fundamental reform.

Yet change has to take place. Government programmes are largely funded on a pay as you go basis. With the ageing of the population the proportion of people who work and pay the taxes that fund services is falling. The reliance on public funding must fall and recipients must fund more of the cost of services through direct charges and payments.

On 15 February 2011 Reform brought together around 100 delegates, from politics, public service, business and the third sector, to listen to and debate the presentations of nine speakers on funding long term care. The speakers were:

  • Lord Warner, Commissioner, Commission on Funding of Care and Support
  • Penny Mordaunt MP, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People
  • Clive Bolton, Managing Director, Equity Release, and At Retirement Director, Aviva
  • Richard Humphries, Senior Fellow, Social Care, The Kings Fund
  • Nick Kirwan, Assistant Director, General Insurance and Health, Association of British Insurers
  • Paul Lewis, Financial journalist
  • Mark Pearson, Head of Health, OECD
  • Nick Starling, Director, General Insurance and Health, Association of British Insurers
  • Emma Stone, Director, Policy and Research, Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The summit received extensive press coverage. The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, for example, both focused on Lord Warners comments ruling out 100 per cent universal state provision and the need for the wealth tied up in housing assets to play a part in any funding solution. The Guardian highlighted Lord Warners indication that compulsory insurance has been ruled out.

This summit provided the chance to hear the views of these figures and, in turn, provided them with the opportunity to receive questions from a range of delegates. A booklet containing short think pieces was published with the summit. Presentations and questions and answers during the day were recorded. This report contains a copy of the agenda of the event, the booklet that accompanied it and the transcript of the discussions.