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What is the best way to fund social care?

09:03 UK time, Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A compulsory levy would be introduced to help pay for social care for adults in England, under plans to be unveiled by ministers in a white paper. What's your reaction?

Demands for care have been rising as people live longer, and costs have been escalating. The funding options put forward by the government all involved the state providing a basic level of funding, which could be topped up by personal contributions, an insurance scheme or a compulsory fee.

However, a compulsory charge is opposed by the Conservatives, who called one proposal for a levy on estates a death tax. They are adamant people should not be compelled to pay, and instead back a voluntary insurance scheme.

Councillor David Rogers, of the Local Government Association, said: "We need a new system and that will inevitably be a combination of tax revenue and individual contributions in some form."

How should social care for adults be funded? Should it be a voluntary system or should there be a compulsory charge? Have you or your relatives been forced to sell your home to pay for social care?

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  • Comment number 1.

    What really needs to be looked at is the outrageous cost of social care - some people are making an awful lot of profit out of this.

    If the costs were addressed then maybe the country could afford it.

    And, we already by for Social Care, so, just in case all the main parties had forgotten - it's called National Insurance ( and if Labour get in it will rise yet again ). But then, we all know it's just extra income tax anyway.

  • Comment number 2.

    I was under the impression we already paid a compulsory levy, it's called National Insurance. It was introduced as an Insurance scheme for those in need of medical care I believe. What we seem to be being told is that we will have to pay yet another stealth tax in order to die with dignity.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yet another Tax on those ho have been prudent unlike Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 4.

    One of the main issues we have is that a large number of the population is economically inactive and in all sorts of benefits. Those people will also end up getting social care free of charge as they will have no visible wealth to tax.
    On the other hand anybody who has worked and paid taxes and created wealth will end up been taxed again to get social care.
    The system is far from fair and what I would stay is controversial. Social care should be given to people who contributed through taxes and NI for a minimum number of years (how much they were paying is not relevant)
    Anyone who never contributed should get only basic support with some safety nets for those that were really unable to work or contribute

  • Comment number 5.

    I've already paid .... it is called National Insurance and it has been and will be increasing.

    What is this question "how will it be funded"

    The question is "where did all the money go ? and now you've spent it all you are going to get it back from pensioners savings !"

  • Comment number 6.

    Here we go again. Those of us who have savings and/or bought our own homes will have to pay. Those who did not work, did not save and lived on benefits (so they can afford modern televisions and new cars) will not have to pay.

    There should be sweeping changes in the benefits system. Single mothers (and I do not refer to widows or divorcees) should get no benefit. Having a child is one's own fault even if it's an 'accident'. There should be a ceiling as to the amount of benefit any family receives. Benefits are for food, shelter and other necessities - not luxuries. No wonder those in receipt of benefits can afford so much.

  • Comment number 7.

    I need to read more about this. I have been trying to find an article which says whether there will be an age limit to the suggested compulsory tax fee. Does anyone know if an age limit to the death tax has been mentioned?

    If there is no age limit - who pays £8,000 - £20,000 for any children or young persons who haven't got £8,000 in savings or estate. Or are they exempt?

    The £20,000 is a very worrying figure. Once you take out inheritance tax and then the care tax people won’t have much inheritance left to leave to their children or to use for their own care later in life.

    10/10 for creativity from the Government though finding a way to tax us even after we’re dead.

  • Comment number 8.

    We need more people paying taxes & contributing to the coffers. There are 3 ways we can do this. Either people must start having more children - future tax payers, or we can encourage more immigration - future tax payers, or we can adopt the Euro as our currency, leading to the set up of the United States of Europe - future pan European tax payers. The backwards looking bnp & ukip might not like it, but I don't see any alternative.

  • Comment number 9.

    The disastrous collapse of our traditional strengths give us an opportunity to rethink and rebuild British social structure. Do we really need expensive nuclear weapons, identity cards, or more State intervention in private lives or should we prioritise who should benefit from having a civilised society.

    The elderly and infirm should be high on our list of priorities. For years we have concentrated on children and made an awful job of giving them better starts with more casualties than successes. Let's not make the same mistake with the elderly and infirm. Let's give them a better finish, but let's not make a chore out of it.

  • Comment number 10.

    This proposed compulsory levy is National Insurance the sequel and just like National Insurance it won't be used for the purpose it is designed for and will go straight into the governments tax pot to pay off the national debt.

  • Comment number 11.

    It has been clear for ages that it is totally impossible for any Government to fund a 'full' Health Service 'free at the point of delivery' as Labour insist upon. Therefore it is obvious to all that we must pay additional revenue somehow. Care for the elderly has highlighted this.

    Why, therefore, are all parties trying specifically to raise new revenue from the elderly? The answer is simple. Raise the additional revenue by charging a contribution, for most people, for all routine care: Doctor visits, X-rays, Hospital stays etc. Then they could afford elderly care costs with only a modest (means tested) contribution from those needing it. Maybe this approach would also minimise the huge sums of money wasted by 'managing' the waiting lists. Waiting lists surely double the ultimate cost of any routine treatment.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'd like to see the New Labour definition of "compulsory levy" before I take an opinion on this.

    As far as I see:

    1. There are people who simply would never be able to afford to save or pay
    2. There are the feckless who will never save or pay
    3. There are people who will always try to save and do the right thing
    4. A few who will always be able to afford care.

    So New Labour, exactly how are you going to make this work, and ensure that (2) above pay their way because, I suspect that the payments will fall on (3) above AS USUAL!

  • Comment number 13.

    When my father's parents became too frail to care for themselves, they came to live with us and my parents cared for them until they passed away, about six months apart. That was in 1952, when I was a toddler. There were very few residential homes then, because care of the elderly was considered a family matter.
    How things have changed; in just two generations we have gone from the world of my parents to a selfish and materialistic society, that largely ignores its elderly. Residential care is now a multi-billion pound industry, and it is the greed of these care home owners that has been, in no small part, responsible for the current social and financial crisis in care of the elderly

  • Comment number 14.

    Whatever happens. If we want care at the point of need it will cost a lot of money. No method will be painless. No party over the last 25 years has solved the problem despite some good steps recently.

    One thing for sure we do not need the Tories playing politics with old people's lives, accusing Labour of proposing a 'death tax' when Labour have not proposed a solution yet. We need a period where all parties ignore politics and look for a solution together that works, not along ideological lines. The Tories trying to make themselves look different than Labour have backed out of joint talks. Labour now have to set up a commission instead. The Tories accuse them of looking like a 'train crash'.(Radio 4 this morning) This is disgusting and insensitive language to bring to such a serious debate. If the Tories had joined in we could have had a system set up during the next parliament. Now we have to wait 2 elections for old people to get help.

    We need a compulsory contribution by everybody so that there can be a universally good standard of care. There can also be the option to pay more if people want to buy into exclusive facilities.

  • Comment number 15.

    Compulsory Levy? Sounds like yet another Tax to me. Makes you wonder what's the point in going out to work.

    If I had spent my life on benefits, would I be denied care in my old age?

  • Comment number 16.

    "4. At 09:56am on 30 Mar 2010, Theo Georgiou wrote:

    One of the main issues we have is that a large number of the population is economically inactive and in all sorts of benefits. Those people will also end up getting social care free of charge as they will have no visible wealth to tax.
    On the other hand anybody who has worked and paid taxes and created wealth will end up been taxed again to get social care.
    The system is far from fair and what I would stay is controversial. Social care should be given to people who contributed through taxes and NI for a minimum number of years (how much they were paying is not relevant)
    Anyone who never contributed should get only basic support with some safety nets for those that were really unable to work or contribute"

    You may be right. Just the same, I'm glad I'm growing old in Finland, a country which supports people, elderly or otherwise, on the basis of their needs, without first asking whether or not they have contributed.

  • Comment number 17.

    It was the Tories who instigated the policy of private provision for care of the elderly. The geriatric wards in NHS hospitals were closed and local authority homes could be transferred to the private sector. This had the effect of transfering the cost of care to the individual. Families expecting to inherit their parents house saw the house being sold to provide funds for care.
    This debate is interesting as it highlights the differences in approach by the major political parties. Labour's preference is for a collective solution, the Tories favour an individualistic approach. The Tory plan is based on a one off £8,000 payment per person to provide care. Apart from the question of whether such a payment would actually fund the level of care needed it also begs the question, 'what happens to those who don't have the £8,000 or £16,000 in the case of a couple?'. The tories are curiously quiet on that question.
    Labour's plan for a £20,000 levy on estates is being characterised as a 'death tax', yet is does address the problem that a large number of elderly just don't have the resources to fund private care.
    We've had 'Care in the Community'(which emptied mental hospitals, providing the cash to fund the cut in the top rate of tax from 60p to 40p), which in the event turned into 'Couldn't Care Less in the Community', do we want the same outcome for the elderly?
    I suspect the Tories could live quite happily with that.

  • Comment number 18.

    Once again the unfortunates who have had to work and save for their old age will have to foot the bill for Labour's army of workshy and lazy who will again contribute nothing. Cut the enormous amounts being handed out to these people and use it to fund care for those who deserve it. Where this government is concerned, any money levied will disappear into the bottomless pit , never to be seen again. National insurance is supposed to pay for health care, but this is also squandered on scroungers, workshy and hairbrained social initiatives that have never worked.

  • Comment number 19.

    ** Recommend comments #2, #4 and #5

    Some care homes not in great condition, but can the Government really promise the tax will actually go towards improving conditions for the elderly or will it disappear like so many other taxes and charges.

  • Comment number 20.

    One consideration for funding social care is a compulsory insurance premium of say £5 per month for every UK citizen over the age of 3 months run by a mutual insurance company on a non profit basis. The premiums will fund a whole of life policy for a sum assured of say £20,000 and with 800,000 people dying each year would bring in revenue for social care of £16 Billion annually. The premiums collected annually would be around £3.6 Billion so introduction of the scheme would take say 4-5 years. The total cost per UK citizen would be around £5100 over a life time; much less than the proposed £20K or any other insurance backed system. I accept collecting the premium would be a challenge and the scheme would be radical but it could work. £5 per month each is a lot less than Sky.

  • Comment number 21.

    National Insurance should cover costs for social care in England. It seems that our "prudent" PM and former Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has messed up our finances yet again.

    So why not get the Scots to pay for it? After all, they haven't had to sell their own homes up until now have they. Oh, and they get free education and prescriptions.

  • Comment number 22.

    If everybody is to be covered for care in old age by a state run system there are only two fair ways to fund it firstly by general taxation or secondly by a compulsory insurance system with ring fenced funds with contributions paid for prior to need. Provision of care could be given in private or public institutions, both being subject to close inspection and minimum standards, anybody wishing to use a home priced at above the decreed level met by the central funding could be free to pay the extra, but only the extra, from their own resources. The idea of funding the system from a levy upon an estate would be open to so much abuse by those who would ensure their estates are beyond the reach of the taxman and at the other end of the sprectrum by those who would blue their resources and then throw themselves as a burden upon the rest of the community.

    But first I would ask what sort of a society have we created for ourselves, there are plenty of very primitive societies where the elderly are cared for by their families and/or the community. We used to be a christian society in this country, many of us today might forego the ritual or even the belief in christianity but did we have to dump the christian values as well? Many (maybe not all) of the migrants coming to this country take their moral responsibilities in this area more seriously than we native Brits.

    I also fail to understand why, when a lone elderly person whose family is not willing to care for them, should not realise any assets including a house in order to help fund their care. I have never heard a moral or logical argument in support of this idea.

  • Comment number 23.

    In the past I had almost always voted Labour. However, I will never forget the first thing Brown did as Chancellor. He took 50 billion out of pension funds to support his spending plans. This was outright theft from working people who were trying to save for their old age. Now that companies are winding up the better final salary pension schemes we have to ask who has contributed to this worsening of the situation for senior citizens. I never thought that a Labour government would plunge us into this through the kind of profligacy that we have seen in the last 13 years; and now they have the nerve to suggest that those who have saved should pay yet another tax, and present it as Labour looking after the elderly. This unelected leader should be remembered (if at all) as the one who did the most to create poverty among the elderly (and the young - student debt). Labour has lost my vote for the foreseeable future.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have been an unpaid carer most of my life looking after a grand-mother and both parents whilst trying to earn enough to live on. I am currently released from that prison. Never in those 27 years did I ever receive a penny from the state who ignored millions of people in the same predicament as I.

    Some home truths. Care in the Community is a stealthy form of euthinasia. More accidents will happen at home which will kill people off earlier than if the received care in a regulated care home.

    Social services will not refer cases to private care homes. Fees are set by Social services and many private facilities have become MRIs as a result.

    So the only way of really caring for the vulnerable members of society is more places, more referals by social services departments and more redistribution of resources. Through our taxes we spend money we cannot afford to provide financial salary pensions. Use that money to pay for care.

  • Comment number 25.

    This is already paid for - it's called National Insurance.. Those that have worked hard all their lives deserve to be looked after well but that is obvously not the way it works..

    Perhaps we should stop importing the poor and illiterate from the third world claiming "it's good for the economy" as their expanding families and other demands are going to have an increasingly adverse effect on this Country's ability to provide decent social care for those that have actually paid for it.

  • Comment number 26.

    Why is it that on this subject no-one talks about the elephant in the room?

    At present all a person has to do when they retire is sign over their home (and other financial assests) to their children when they retire. After 10 years they can retire to residential care and not pay for it, it is paid by the state.

    Why do parents not do this? It is because they lose the last vestiges of power and control over their families. If there were no more threats of dis-inheritance then there would be no more visits, no more mothers day guilt-ridden meals out & flowers, no more access to grandchildren, no more 'family' christmases.

    The middle classes complain that there parents are being taxed twice when in fact it is their new 4x4, house extension, holidays abroad etc. etc. that they are moaning about losing.

    I trust my kids, I will be signing over all my assets to them on my retirement day.

  • Comment number 27.

    So even the politicians now agree that 'National Insurance' is represented fraudulently, there is no linkage between so-called 'contributions' and services/payments received. It is a tax, pure and simple.

    And the sole reason that we all pay tax is to enable the state to provide the services that the individual citizen cannot provide for himself. If the services are not provided as needed, then even general taxation becomes fraudulent. Anyone who charges money and then does not provide the services he has been paid to provide should end up in court.

  • Comment number 28.

    "What we seem to be being told is that we will have to pay yet another stealth tax in order to die with dignity."

    Well it can't be a "stealth tax" can it.

    "Stealth" implies that it is being done without anyone noticing - this has been widely announced and discussed in the media for weeks!

    I'd buy a dictionary if I were you.

  • Comment number 29.

    A person has an income, and they must decide what to spend that money on; do you buy a new house ? A new car ? Have a holiday ? More clothes ? Go out to dinner ? Go down the pub ? etc, etc, etc.

    i.e. you have to make a CHOICE about what to spend your money on ( unless you are very rich ).

    So it should be exactly the same for the Government; it must make a CHOICE about how it’s going to spend our money; it can spend it on Social Care, on the Police, on the NHS, on benefits, on wars, on foreign aid, etc, etc, etc.

    Basically, the Governments needs to think like a person has to; We have a finite income, we can’t have everything, so we need to make a CHOICE.

  • Comment number 30.

    We already have the largest care home in the world. It's called the House of Commons. Although the occupants there never need to sell their homes, or dip into their life savings. The food is excellent and the entertainment is second to none.

  • Comment number 31.

    "This is an easy one, get our money back from the Greedy bankers

  • Comment number 32.

    "Once again the unfortunates who have had to work and save for their old age will have to foot the bill for Labour's army of workshy and lazy who will again contribute nothing. Cut the enormous amounts being handed out to these people and use it to fund care for those who deserve it."

    Surely those who deserve are those in need. Besides, if we only ever got what we deserve, I fancy few of us would be given anything.

  • Comment number 33.

    We already pay for this via our National Insurance contributions, but at present Labour wastes our money. Scrap overseas aid and spend the money on British people instead.

  • Comment number 34.

    How are we going to pay for social care? There must be some mistake as we have already paid for it with National Insurance contributions. The real question should be "why is there no money left to pay for social care?"

    It is about time that governments were held accountable for spending our money and not giving us anything in return. Every single scrap of political news seems to be a rise in taxes and/or a cut in services. Criminal charges should be applied.

    If there is not enough money to pay for this then cuts need to be made in some of the pointless spending programs. Health tourism, MPs expenses, diversity and equality and ineffective "green" issues to name a few. Alternatively they could introduce a law to cap the profit of care givers. No one should make a fortune from essential services.

  • Comment number 35.

    How should we fund social care?

    Stop all foreign aid, until we are able to look after our own people.

  • Comment number 36.

    It is my money they are considering to take away compulsorily ....

    I do not wish to go into a care home when old - i'd rather have a little less care and die earlier - I don't want to hang around other old people playing tiddly-winks and being patronised "ah you ok deary?"

    Must easier to do an "Oats" .. I might be some time ... on a nice cold winters morning .. we all die sometime

    The issue to debate should be "DEATH", and getting to grips with one FACT you cannot avoid.

  • Comment number 37.

    We need a government with enough backbone to have a proper look at the benefits culture that exists within this country and do something about it. I'm married,with three children, I work full time and my wife has a part-time job. We receive NO housing benefit, NO council tax reduction and we don't expect it. When we married and had children we knew that sometimes we may struggle a bit financially and would have to forego things like holidays, new cars and other luxuries. However within a three minute walk of my front door I have three families (I know of) where both parents don't work and haven't for as long as I've known them but yet they all own much newer cars than us, they all own the latest audio visual equipment and one of the families with three kids has actually got all three of the major games consoles. Am I bitter about it? You bet I am sometimes but until we have a government that stops paying people enough money to have a comfortable lifestyle for doing nothing we will always have problems finding the funds to pay for the care of those that genuinely need it.

  • Comment number 38.

    What is trully amazing about this fiasco is that the figures were available to see this problem coming over twenty years ago. I know, since I was involved in a low level report on the issue back in the early nineties. Nobody paid it the slightest notice. A similar report was produced on the growing pensions problem which has become a reality over the past decade.
    We can now see similar disasters waiting in the future wings regarding the levels of government debt. The politicians seem unable to ever do anything in good time. We are always subjected to crisis mode. Usually a mark of incompetent management at the top.

  • Comment number 39.

    Social care is really about benefits - and as long as there are benefits - there will be those who chose to cheat the system and become career benefit recipients.
    Why doesn't one of the parties suggest starting again and scrapping the whole system, and present policies which we can buy into. We could even scrap charities and have the whole thing covered by taxation. Someone in politics needs to explain in a better way on how their party is going to spend the kind donations of British workers who pay the taxes. If it means we have fewer ambassadors around the world, or don't pay millions protecting the anonymity of scumbags, or reemove funding for trivial research, then so be it. We could then examine why people get or think they deserve benefits (charity) from other people. I have no problem with war heros, genuine injuries and sickness - but why should some girl receive handouts for having a baby she can't afford and be provided with a house where she can no doubt get off her head and present herself as some kind of role model to her ilk. How does this benefit affect the poverty. Time to treat the cause - not the symptoms

  • Comment number 40.

    Just what exactly have we paid National Insurance Contributions for?
    Bearing in mind that Labour keeps putting up National Insurance Contributions.
    This is just another Labour scam to screw yet more money out of everyone.

  • Comment number 41.

    What is the best way to fund social care?

    The one certain factor in our lives is that many here reading this will one day need some form of elderly care.

    The present system as usual favours the very rich,all those of you who have their own properties may be forced to sell your family homes if your partner becomes mentally unstable or suffers with Parkingson's or Dementia,etc,etc.

    One of the biggest problems facing the elderly today is the fact that they are now living longer,this means that all their savings are too soon depleted,leaving many living on state handouts alone,care home fees at the moment even the cheapest cost around £600+ per week,with all the nonsense (guise)of health and safety many of the cheaper smaller care homes being deemed unfit are closed by do-gooding local councils who then force struggling OAP's to suffer in their own freezing cold homes in awful conditions.

    Care in the community?a waste of space agencies run careres who visit their elderly victims dashing in and out of their patients homes sometimes in only a couple of minutes.

    What we really need now here in the UK is our own national lottery for elderly care and the NHS,maybe even a contributory system other than tax and NI to fund pensions and huge estates built and dedicated soley the care of the elderly.(most people dont realise that normal care homes do not take in people with dementia)

  • Comment number 42.

    I've paid into the social care pot for over fifty years, if there is not enough money in the pot to fund my care if and when I become infirm that is not my fault. Successive governments have mis-managed that social care pot by hiving off it's funds for anything but what people like me paid into it for. It reinforces my belief that from birth you are given a national insurance number that forms your personal health and welfair account. My account would have at least a quarter of a million in it, I've paid into it and taken very little out of it so why should politicians be telling me that I have to pay death taxes etc for care? Britain, unless you are very wealthy, has turned into a society that punishes the people who through their lives have done the right thing by saving and preparing for old age. That's why I condemn labour and always will, they are a spent force, they are systematically destroying our country just for votes to keep them in power. So the way to fund social care is to set up, from birth NHS accounts for each individual and have a fall back account for those with serious illnesses that exhaust their personal accounts. When someone dies any balance of their personal pot would automatically go into the fall-back account. With that arrangement governments can't or shouldn't dip into NHS funds for other purposes.

  • Comment number 43.

    Isn't this already called "National Insurance"? Where's all my money for that gone then? Cleaning moats?

    Calling this a "levy" is just a cynical ploy of semantics to avoid using the word tax.

  • Comment number 44.

    Several comments quite rightly criticise benefits (long term benefits from the won't work brigade, not those who are genuine or disabled and can't work) and what they would contribute to a compulsary tax (as I doubt they would voluntarily). Totally agree with comment #18

    Why can't the Government reduce these benefits and increase pensions or wages? This would give the chance for those who have contributed to the country to have a better quality of life. If benefits and free housing were greatly reduced there would be less people on them and they would have an incentive to find work.

    Instead of giving away free housing like sweets, put that money towards Government funded care homes. Care homes which must be maintained to a standard that is constantly monitored and assessed so it doesn't slip.

    Hey Brown - if you tried to get more people working who can, and in their own homes (rented or otherwise) you get more NI and council tax in your pocket - another win for you! You're more likely to gain from that than raiding what is left of people's savings and pensions.

  • Comment number 45.

    "22. At 10:18am on 30 Mar 2010, SimpleOldSailor wrote:
    ... I would ask what sort of a society have we created for ourselves, there are plenty of very primitive societies where the elderly are cared for by their families and/or the community. We used to be a christian society in this country, many of us today might forego the ritual or even the belief in christianity but did we have to dump the christian values as well? Many (maybe not all) of the migrants coming to this country take their moral responsibilities in this area more seriously than we native Brits."

    Well said, SimpleOldSailor. It's a question that many might well ponder on. I wonder if a society can call itself civilised that refuses to look after those members of it that need help, irrespective of the reasons why, and irrespective of the ability to pay.

  • Comment number 46.

    This was the same reason given for introducing National Insurance. Where has all that money gone? It's gone to paying people to spend their entire lives on benefits, paying people to have more and more children that they can't possibly afford and paying for the state to employ millions and millions of paper pushers. People that work hard all their lives are left to live in dreadful conditions because they're not a political hot topic. It's a total disgrace.

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    First of all, like saving for a pension, individuals during their working years must save sufficient funds to be able to make a contribution to their own social care. The presumption that the 'State' (much loved by Labour) will provide it all is illusory. This problem can be solved, partially at least, by giving greater responsibility to individuals and families instead of the public at large. Increasing the tax burden to fund social care usually only punishes the responsible and frugal citizen and rewards the irresponsible, idle and spendthrift. As an OAP myself, the ideas being discussed about a National Care Service tell me (1) that my taxes will rise and (2) that I must not hold any savings or other assets (property) or else I will be penalised. Throughout my life, I have lived within my means by doing without when required, instead of building up debt and expecting others to come to my rescue. Gordon Brown does not like me because I am not dependent on his 'State'. So, you know where my sympathies lie.

  • Comment number 49.

    Well it will cost a lot more that the tory 8k on retirement and/or the Labour 20k of death.

    Assume 1 in 5 pensoners need the funds. if i invest 8k * 5 is 40k on retirement, even the best policies will only grow at or around inflation yet care home costs have over the last 10 years gone up around 10% a year (my grand parents are in a care home and have been for 7 years and yes have had to sell all their assets to live there).

    at 400 to 600 a week in kent for a care home 40k will last a max of under 2years!

    so tory policy will pay for 2years of care and labours will pay for 1!

  • Comment number 50.

    There is no reason why this should not be funded out of General taxation. At the end of the day what is national insurance for, if not for items such as this.
    A compulsory levy applied when people die doesn't seem fair, and will lead to a lot of resentment from their relatives. Why should an Estate have to pay the levy if the person never used the service, because either they died suddenly, possibly in an accident, or were looked after at home. It seems unfair to charge in both these cases.

  • Comment number 51.

    But in Labour had not raided pension funds 5Billion a year for the last 13 years more of us would be able to afford care homes form our money purchase pensions or final sal pensions.

    As it is only civil servents will have that luxuary when i retire in 20years time

  • Comment number 52.

    Will people in Scotland and Wales pay this levy or will it just be people in England?

  • Comment number 53.

    We seem to be missing a point here. The whole purpose of having individual savings is to help pay for things when we are no longer earning a salary, and this includes our care in old age. I appreciate that it is nice to be able to pass on ones assets to ones family but that is not the prime purpose of savings. Savings are meant to be spent, because rest assured if you do not spend them, the Government most certainly will! The message from Gordon Brown is clear. Do not save but let the Nu-Labour State take over your life. That is the way he and his colleagues take control of the State and its citizens. They run your life; not you.

  • Comment number 54.

    Too many people to look after and the cash is running out, so the honest hardworking folk have to pay yet another tax. But Labour dont care they want to fill the country with more people from the third world as they see them as potential Labour voters of the future.

  • Comment number 55.

    No no no no no to yet another tax by this abominable government. I have never expected the state to pay for me when I get old and on that basis, I fully expect to have to save my money to fund any care I might need or sell my house to pay for it if that is what is needed. What's the big deal? This is just more free-loading off those who work and don't claim benefits all their lives.

  • Comment number 56.

    Will the Monaco Billionaires exempt themselves from this Levy, as they have with UK Income Tax ?
    Also, will MP's and those Benefits Lifers just claim for it by ticking yet another box on a form ? MP's of course can claim it against 'Expences ? True or False ?

  • Comment number 57.

    Everyone but the Government(s) (past and present) knows that National Insurance pays for this.
    It`s time the Government woke-up and gave themselves a very hard kick up the backside.

  • Comment number 58.

    Here's the problem.

    Generations of us were given to expect that the state would look after us in old age at no additional cost to us. Anyone who retired before about 1990 probably believed this completely.

    Elderly care is highly labour intensive, and paying the workforce is (thanks to levels of wage inflation that could not have been foreseen in Beveridge's time) the major cost component of any care activity. Additionally, the days when you could use largely unskilled labour are gone, successive care scandals and health and safety legislation have seen to that. That translates into the fact that good elderly care is expensive (£1,100 per week in some cases).

    Put together the high cost of care, exceptionally large numbers of people wanting it and the high expectations they have been given, and you have a perfect and unavoidable storm. The best we can now do is minimise the damage from the storm.

    So, what's to do? When you do elderly care on the cheap, you get the scenes you see in many of our hospitals, where elderly care is very obviously at the lower end of the pecking order for funding. My Dad was in an elderly care ward at the hospital at Stevenage early this year and the conditions and level of care there were frankly appalling (yes, we have a complaint going through the system). So, providing good care on the cheap is not seemingly possible.

    Expecting people to fund their own care only goes so far. People who were expecting the state to look after them when they got old have tended not to save much, or take out insurances. I think that, for people currently over about 75 years old, this was a reasonable expectation and we should not penalise them for not having saved. People under 65 have been told, with increasing urgency over many years past that this crisis was coming, and if they have not made at least some personal provision for their old age, they have been highly negligent.

    One is struck by the lack of innovation in elderly care. Okay, there are better drugs and better medical equipment then ever before, but the basics of cleaning, washing bed care etc are still done as they always have been. There must be improvements and therefore cost savings to be made there to make those tasks (which form the majority of the task in most cases) less labour intensive.

    But when you come down to it, taxing the working population to bale out people who can't afford proper care in their old age is the only way to meet this problem. It's not fair, and it will be highly divisive, but unless the state is going to start condoning euthanasia on a mass scale (which I think nobody wants), or is prepared to see the media full of scandals about Dickensian conditions in hospitals, then there is no other way.

    Alan T

  • Comment number 59.

    I think it should be paid for in a similar way that the National Health Swervice is paid for - out of Taxes and National Insurance, We were told that the Health Service was available from Cradle to the Grave. I know this means that those who know all the dodges to get benefits rather than work will benefit, more effort should be made to get these spomgers into work. Rather the government spend money creating jobs than paying unemployment benefit,

    I also think that care should be taken not to do away with benefits which are the most economical, e.g. disability benefit and Attendance Allowance. I receive attendance allowance (about £70 a week) and with the help of my family manage to keep going. Need care 24 hours a day. If attendance allowance is scrapped (which is on the cards) I dread to think what it would cost the Government be it through Social Services or some othder body, to pay for my care. I am not a scrounger, when I was forced to give up work I refused sick pay as my husband could afford to keep me. (Not wealthy just hard working with an independent streak) Wish this was settled. What little I have left I feel should go to my family. But more than anything the method that is best is one which is simple and involves the least burocracy.

  • Comment number 60.

    My care has already been paid for out of the National INSURANCE contributions I've been paying for the last 45 years.

    If politicians have wasted my money on duck houses, the EU and wars they better dig deep in their pockets. I'm paying NO MORE!

  • Comment number 61.

    None of my great grandparents or my grandparents went into care homes. They were cared for in the own homes by their family

    If an elderly person needs to go into care why do they need to retain their property. If families are not prepared to care for their elderly why should the reap the benefit of the sale of their property on their death.

    The NHS was set up to fund provide medical care for illness and not to look after people who's own family are unwilling/unable to help them in their old age.

  • Comment number 62.

    What so many of the multi millionaires who lead the Tory party fail to understand is that millions could never find £8,000. These are not work shy people on benefits but the millions living on low wages who do all the necessary work and just manage to keep their heads above water. Something Cameron and Osborne can't comprehend. People have a right to support whichever party they feel attracted to but Tory supporters on these posts seem to assume that any one who votes Labour is a lazy scrounger. What they fail to realise is that many vote Labour because they genuinely believe in a welfare state rather than the selfish grab what you can get, hang on to it and blow the rest politics

  • Comment number 63.

    I'm pretty certain that any 'compulsory' scheme would not include those on benefits (I refer to those that wont work rather than those that cannot) as they don't even contribute to Council Tax.

    It's another reason not to work hard, earn money and try to leave a financial legacy to your children or siblings. You sit on your bum for decades doing absolutely nothing and you don't have to pay a penny towards your care - it's just another thing the lazy and feckless expect from a society to which they contribute absolutely nothing.

    STOP providing care to those that have not contributed via taxation with the exception of those that are actively seeking employment, disabled or certified as unable to work. We have so many people that believe they're entitled to benefits without actually having contributed anything.

    Like me and every other person that contributes to society - if they want care in their old age they must pay.

  • Comment number 64.

    There has always been a compulsory charge for employed people it is called national insurance. If more funds are required because people are living longer etc then increase national insurance contributions as appropriate.
    By the way, governments of any colour do not make financial contributions to anything, it is all tax payers money.

  • Comment number 65.

    I feel so foolish - why? Because over the years my husband and I have worked hard, saved hard and not been a drain on society for any reason whatsoever.
    Now, at a time in our lives when we do need some assistance, we have to surrender what we have worked to get in order to recieve help.
    Is it any wonder that thousands of pensioners in our position feel aggrieved that others get for free what we will have to pay for?
    Since immigration figures soared out of control it was clear that the benifit bill would increase proportionally.
    I find it unfair that non Brtitish citizens can claim assistance just by turning up and holding out their hand while I cannot.

  • Comment number 66.

    A compulsory care levy would punish the army of unpaid carers who save the country untold billions - because the people they look after would have to pay up but be told "you're not actually getting anything because your care is provided by your family". It would be a perverse incentive that would encourage people to place relatives in the hands of the state and push more people into residential care, earlier. It would also be seen as an extension of the situation we have now in that working, being prudent and saving means you get less benefits and have to pay for things others get free.

  • Comment number 67.

    I'd start by questioning most of the assumptions underlying the question.

    For a start, it's assumed that the population will carry on ageing, with today's kids expected to reach 100. I doubt that will happen. So many kids and young people nowadays are so unhealthy, there are already signs that life expectancy is set to drop.

    And why assume that 'society' will provide care anyway?

    The growth of benefits culutre under Labour has led to widespread scepticism about why the workers amongst us should be paying for the non-productives, be they public sector 'workers' or professional babymakers and benefits absorbers.

    We have huge numbers of permanently economically inactive people already, and loads of young ones choosing child-making as a career option.

    Those of us who work and pay taxes are less and less inclined to pay for these people already. Why should we pay for them when they get old?

  • Comment number 68.

    I might be more interested if there was going to be some segregation in this service, a sort of Business Class "cabin" for those who have paid in and an Economy Section for those who haven't bothered. I really don't want to be lumped in with the feckless in a one size fits all dreadful state service..HYS was much more fun in the old version...

  • Comment number 69.

    Why can't the NI & Grad Pension which we have been charged by successive governments over the past 100 years pay for the retirement health treatment like it was designed to do?

    I can answer that question.
    For too long consec gov have taken this money like tax and for no other purpose. The holiday NHS tourists and immigrants that have not paid anything into the system have had everything out. A combination of Gov interference, taking the cash to pay for their expenses, and miss management created by consecutiev inept govs.

    Not so difficult to see is it?

    This is why I will vote for the UKIP, BNP or Islamic party.

  • Comment number 70.

    I am troubled by some of the comments on this thread intimating that parents are a burden in their old age to their grown up children. Not only do children have a duty to look after their parents in their old age, I would hope they would want to pay back some of the sacrifices, love, worry, and care that their parents invested in bringing them up, often in a world which is a lot harder than it is now. The idea that grown up children engage with their parents due to the fear of being dis-inherited makes my heart sink. My opinion is that families should take care of their own, unless there are compelling reasons to not do so i.e. need specialist social/health care.

  • Comment number 71.

    The public mental health system has a serious funding problem. Mental hospitals and community care programs significantly reduce patients' symptoms. Government's purchases of psychotropic medication and electro-convulusive therapy relieves depression and manic phase. Bogus advocates, though, trouble patients with stereotype and bias (mixing in racial intolerance against minorities). The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill uses bigoted derision when describing patients' mood as demonic possession through immorality. They know that over one-half of the patients suffer from narcotics and alcohol abuse. NAMI representatives as Margaret Chapman of Pennsylvania issue superstition, myth, and misinformation on psychiatric treatment. The public requires accurate information for available treatment.

  • Comment number 72.

    The number of people on here who say 'I've already paid it's called National Insurance' seem oblivious to the fact that that pot of money is not elastic and has to cover a vast array of other government costs, the biggest of which is state retirement pensions.
    Sadly the nation seems incapable of having a grown up conversation about this issue, which is why the government has chickened out and kicked the whole subject into the long grass, well after the election.
    This really will not do and we need urgently to address the issue. First, the government needs more closely to regulate the cost and quality of care in private sector homes. Many old people are being ripped off by those care home owners whose only concern is to maximise profits. Any 'National Care Service' has to address this or it will simply become a milch cow for the unscrupulous. Second, the issue needs to be funded by an increase in income tax, the only fair way to do it.

  • Comment number 73.

    " ... social care .."? How fascinating the way politicians play with semantics and change use of terminology to avoid issues of ageism in an election year?

    Hmm. Last year/early this year, all over the media, including the BBC - 'elderly population are a burden on the State and old people a drain on resources etc'?

    We should abolish the term 'old' and 'elderly', which is ageist and all media and politicians should only use term "elder" or "senior"

    In fact, the whole media and Government culture should change it's attitude totally towards seniors - as it did with racist terms?

    Elders and seniors are not a sub-species!! They are your mum, dad, and your grandparents? If you allow yourselves to be brainwashed that seniors are a drain on you - then just stop and think what will happen to YOU when you are 'of an age' and subject to media and political ageism attacks????

  • Comment number 74.

    I don't mind a levy for care (I'm 75) but I trust no government of any persuasion. I would insist on it being "ring-fenced" permanently so it can never be put into the general coffers of spendthrift politicians

  • Comment number 75.

    What has happened to our NI contributions over the last 13 years? Why is the pot empty? Where has the money gone?

  • Comment number 76.

    I may have it wrong but what is National Insurance for. I've paid into NI for nearly 40 years and will continue to do so until I retire. Isn't that supposed to pay for my state pension and subsequent social care.

    It seems to me that any 'new' system will only penalise the prudent.

    Why is that Scotland can afford fee social care and we can't.

    All seems to be a shambles and you can only point at our illustrious leaders. 'Jilted John was spot on'

  • Comment number 77.

    The problem with all the proposals I have seen so far is they involve us trusting the government and/or the banking industry to look after the money we give them for purpose of funding our care later in life. However, experience has shown us that we give people the money and in the case of the government, they spend it on something else. In the case of the banks, they gamble it on high risk investments and when they have lost it all they justify themselves by saying 'markets can go down as well as up'. When their gambles go wrong we never see them paying back the obscene pay or bonuses they have paid themselves out of the profits (either real or imagined) they have made with our money.

  • Comment number 78.

    So I pay National Insurance, taxes all my life and now I have to pay a levy for social care. However the MP's can afford second homes and extortionate expenses. There are billions in the coffers to 'help' out the banks that have been managed irresponsibly, benefits for those who can't be bothered to work and the government can find millions at the drop of a hat to send to Haiti.
    How about looking after those who pay the taxes and those who genuinely need the money first and foremost.

  • Comment number 79.

    At any time about 2/3rds of the population is not working for one reason or another. As one of the 1/3rd who is, I'm doing my bit for those in receipt of social care now. Whether its tax or National Insurance, VAT or a million ways the government has to tax me - I more than contribute and threatened with a retirement age of 70 I'll probably never get to the point of social care myself.

    Enough is enough. Get more taxpayers into work and stop loop holes in tax laws which mean most of the well-off avoid tax anyway.

  • Comment number 80.

    I think all should contribute towards social care, no-one should escape contributions - BUT all should be entitled to a basic standard of care- INCLUDING care by professionals & NOT as is current by unqualified low paid employees.
    I do not think that ANYONE should escape paying taxes, even if they are on low wages I think they should contribute something. At the end of the day, we should all have to pay for and contribute towards our own existance.

    It is horrendous that in 2010 we have poor quality care staff providing that which is ILLEGAL within the NHS.

    The SAME standards and duties and regulations that the NHS has to abide by should be in co-existance within social care services.
    There are nightmare situations ALL around the UK, with many frail pensioners being treated with LESS respect, care and legal governance than mass produced chickens.

    I consider it an attrocity that in UK chickens actually have better legal protection than pensioners in private care services when it comes to duty of care and health and safety and qualified personel looking after them.

    I would NOT want to contribute to a system that is so backward and inhumane as is the present UK private care system.
    Might as well just book into a kennels when I am old & infirm, at least those employed actually care about creatures and NOT just squeezing out the maximum profit at great hardship & attrocity to those they call clients/customers.

    The care system in UK is abismal, many people treat their cats & dogs better than care standards many pensioners receive.

    Paying for a care system as it exists presently, is like paying for a 2010 Ford Focus and actually receiving a 1970s Ford Escort.

    If I am to pay into a system, then I want to know EXACTLY what I am paying for. I will NOT pay an attocity tax.

  • Comment number 81.

    A nation can be judged by the way it cares for old folk.
    My advice for those who can - keep that £3000 under your pillow so that you can go to Switzerland when the time comes.

  • Comment number 82.

    21. At 10:14am on 30 Mar 2010, Les wrote:
    So why not get the Scots to pay for it? After all, they haven't had to sell their own homes up until now have they. Oh, and they get free education and prescriptions.

    Why are you trying to pull the Scots down to the same level as the rest of the UK? Its far better to raise EW&NI up to the same level as our northen cousins. I think the Scots have a lot of things right, many of their successes (smoking ban, free parking at hospitals etc) are just copied by Nu Liebour. We deserve to have the same benefits and services as other parts of the UK!

  • Comment number 83.

    So, I have to ask successive Labour and Tory governments - what the heck have you been doing with my NI contributions over the last 20 years or so?

    It beggars belief that yet another stealth tax is being proposed for something that I have already paid vast amounts of money towards.

    Stop the huge profiteering by 'care' providers and get malingers out to work. That way we save money and gain a contribution from those who would otherwise be happy to take, take, take.

  • Comment number 84.

    Very tricky problem. What is unfair is those who save all of their lives to have those savings raided when in care. My mother-in-law was in a care home paying some £1800 per month. The woman in the next room got the same care free. The secret in the modern age is actually to be poor. The middle class can not afford to go to university or to be in need of care when elderly.

  • Comment number 85.

    I'm more than happy for social care to be funded from a tax on my estate once I have died. I never inherited anything from my parents and I don't see the need to leave anything to my own children.

    No doubt those people who want it to be funded from National Insurance will be the first to complain if their NI contributions were to go up even further but then most people want to receive something for nothing in this society of ours.

  • Comment number 86.

    Typical Labour - yet another scroungers' charter. Penalise those who saved for their future and reward those who didn't. Britain cannot go on like this.

  • Comment number 87.

    The compulsory 'death tax' proposal is typical of a controlling government such as New Labour.
    It gives a one size solution regardless of the problem.
    Look at the recent NHS scandals where elderly or infirm people were starved of care, food and even water and surprise, surprise, they soon die.
    Contrast this care, even the best NHS care, with that given by the family of the patient in their own, familiar environments. Yet the 'death tax' approach will only allow this best care option amongst the richer members of society!!!
    Those who want to care for their relatives will still be taxed even though their use of the NHS services will be minimal.

  • Comment number 88.

    The most worrying aspect of this debate for me is the almost complete ignorance of many of the contributors to it.
    Perhaps they should stop believing everything they read in the Daily Mail or Express and find out for themselves the reality of life for those on benefits, 99% of whom are decent human beings trying to struggle through life facing the sort of problems that these 'know it alls' have never had to face in their lives.

    Many benefits are paid to those in work but whose pay is subsidised to a level at which they can just about scrape by. In effect our taxes are being used to subsidise greedy employers who have no responsibility or desire to pay a living wage. Perhaps those who whinge about all the luxuries those on benefits receive should come up with some concrete evidence and not just recycle the rubbish printed in rightwing newspapers.

    The very good reasons why some people do not own their own houses are so numerous they'd take all day to list but again, ill health and low wages are by far the most prevalent. The ill informed and outspoken (the two go together like fish and chips) often go on about those who spend their money on smoking, drinking and gambling. When those who have none of these vices get their share dividends or a top up to their pension funds from companies like British and American Tobacco, Greene King and Ladbrokes where exactly do they think the profits of those companies come from?

    We live in an economy where some have to save and some have to spend. We are much more dependent on one another than most people care to realise. I am a retired professional with my own house and a good pension. I count myself very lucky and know that if I need care in my old age and it can't be provided by my family (a course that should always be investigated first) I know I'm going to have to fund my own care. Why can't everyone lucky enough (and luck plays a much more important role in our lives than most admit) to have savings and capital just face up to that fact or has everyone simply become greedy, grasping, selfish and intolerant in the 21st century?

  • Comment number 89.

    At #8 Len Day says - We need more people paying taxes & contributing to the coffers. There are 3 ways we can do this. Either people must start having more children - future tax payers, or we can encourage more immigration - future tax payers, or we can adopt the Euro as our currency, leading to the set up of the United States of Europe - future pan European tax payers. The backwards looking bnp & ukip might not like it, but I don't see any alternative.
    Nice idea but one of the problems we face are that so many people are having children who will not become tax payers. Here in Newcastle we have FIVE generations, and counting, of unemployed (rather more through choice than necessity). Why should they bother - they can have quite a comfortable living with everything provided courtesy of tax payers.

    More immigration? And where do you suppose we put all these people? It seems we have to import people only because a large number of our unemployed refuse to work - which is a HUGE problem for us all. We'd all be far better off if the lazy and feckless were forced into work - or made to work for benefits. Something for nothing has to be paid for by someone.

    If we didn't spend so much money keeping people who COULD and should contribute we'd have more than enough for our aging population, the disabled, free education, better health care etc etc etc.

    Sorry, I really can't see how the Euro is going to help here...

  • Comment number 90.

    There is no limit on income tax so why is there one on NI? Removing the cap would bring in enough for this from the wealthy without taking more from the lower paid who are already grossly overburdened with tax. Perhaps we could even raise the lower limit to let some of the hard-working poor keep a little more of what they earn? It might even be an incentive for the deliberately jobless to consider trying work.

  • Comment number 91.

    Would like to reiterate that so-called 'social care' has more to do with disrespect of all our mums, dads and grandparents' ' lack of value' by ageist government and society?

    Your next - it's a creeping and brainwashing alienation of what we all, subconsciously fear most?

    Well, who cares about elders when you're 35 with kids perhaps? Why don't 'old' people go away ... we don't like how they look? I'll never look like that etc. Yes, you may become like your parents or grandparents? If you don't protect care for them - then you endanger your future too?

  • Comment number 92.

    Social Care - when was that invented, and why do we need it now when previosuly, we didn't?

    Is it what children used to do for their parents, and which we are now too selfish to do and expect "someone else" to do it for us?

  • Comment number 93.

    Like everyone says. We already pay. It's called National Insurance. Those in care at the moment have already paid.

    Try getting rid of a few of those repugnant little leaches who drug those in care out of their minds so it's a) easy work & b) really profitable. (Oh yes, they're out there.)

    Shop floor care workers are mainly on minimum wage so who's eating all the pie?

  • Comment number 94.

    21. Les wrote:

    "So why not get the Scots to pay for it? After all, they haven't had to sell their own homes up until now have they. Oh, and they get free education and prescriptions."

    The Scots got these benefits by voting for a government that had the policies in their manifestos. The people of Wales and Northern Ireland have also voted for assemblies that introduced similar policies. The problem for the English is they are stuck in this post-war two party mentality of revolving failure. As George Osborne told the English last night "only Labour or the Conservatives will form your next government".

  • Comment number 95.

    The Government discovered that old chesnut and want in... When my Dad passed away in the care home, the asked us to visit one of their open days, then presented us with the bill for his 10 day 'stay' £1,500. can be paid from his estate can't it??.

    He was placed there when the Social Services care homes were rejected by Dad and his family. That was in 2002, since then all care homes have been rebuilt/updated. Another post budget/pre General Election issue?.

  • Comment number 96.

    I agree with 'engageyourbrain'..........firstly we have to sort out the costs for such care as the charges at the moment are outragous, especially for those who just do a bit of cleaning and cooking. Homes charge 5* hotel prices when they are just box rooms with a row of chairs in a big room and sloppy food. These prices are charged to fleece the taxpayer who pay for most and middle class elderly who have no option but to cough up these inflated charges. I agree with a levy but not if it is to pay for rip off charges to make a few people very rich.

  • Comment number 97.

    Why should a levy be introduced when those of us who have worked have paid National Insurance Contributions. My husband and I have worked and saved hard for what we have and have never asked the State for a penny.

    I think it's sad that older people who have saved for their retirement and have worked hard to be able to own their own home are at the end of the day treated like criminals.

    However, comments by some HYS contributers leave me wondering what it's all about. Some elderely people through no fault of their own become so ill that their families are unable to give them the care they require. Maybe some of the folk who are decrying families should take a long hard look at themselves before they sit in judgement on others. I live beside a very independent 95 year old who lives on her State Pension and wants only the help she is entitled to.

    The levy would be very difficult to introduce and manage and it's doubtful if the British Public would stand for yet another tax regardless of which party tries to introduce it.

  • Comment number 98.

    It WAS funded out of national insurance payments by the WORKING TAXPAYER.
    Then Gordon Brown organised a raid on the pension pot that had built up, and stole 50 billion to use as spending money. That's a Labour government for you. The same as the motorist, the highest taxed, but no money to spend on the roads because they have spent it on something else!!!!!

  • Comment number 99.

    Scrapping Trident would fund social care easily and employ a lot more people.

  • Comment number 100.

    We were asked to care for Dad at home. We even sold furniture so a hospital bed was moved into the Living Room for him, (we had to move upstairs into guest room. It worked for 3 days when the home care plan collapsed. The bed was removed and Dad went back into cottage hospital, then classed as a bed blocker' then we had the stress of moving into a care home, 10 days later he died.... Home care doesn't work either....


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