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Daily View: How will the Dilnot social care review be received?

Clare Spencer | 09:42 UK time, Monday, 4 July 2011

Nursing home


Ahead of the launch of the report recommending a new way of paying for social care, commentators ponder the chances of the a more costly system getting through.

In the Times Labour peer Lord Lipsey is not sure social care will be reformed given previous form:

"Every previous attempt to deal with this problem has failed. The Sutherland Royal Commission set up to look at it in 1999, to which I wrote a dissenting report, wanted the taxpayer to pick up the whole bill. In Scotland, where Lord Sutherland's policy has been tried, it has led to exploding demand for care and a doubling in the cost of home care in five years - a recognised disaster.
A few years of Government shilly-shallying were followed by the even more cracked proposal by Gordon Brown to provide care free to people in their own homes, while making them pay in full if they went into a care home. The Tories dubbed his plans to fund this through a levy on estates a "death tax" and little was heard of it during last year's election campaign."

Benedict Brogan suggests in the Telegraph that the report is difficult to sell in an era of cuts:

"We should take the praise that will be lavished on Dilnot with a dose of salt. David Cameron and George Osborne will try hard to avoid any language that might be interpreted as equivocal. But the £2-£3bn cost - rising to £5bn after 10 years apparently - is making them very nervous, as is the inescapable implication of what Dilnot proposes: the beneficiaries will be people with assets to protect, and the political minds in No10 worry that some will conclude that Dilnot is an expensive way of helping mainly Tory voters. Forget that it also means those with no assets will get their care for free. In an age of austerity, there is great nervousness about lavishing money on those who have it already, as it were."

Richard Humphries at the Kings Fund says the key question to ask when the report comes out is how much extra money will care get - irrespective of how it gets it:

"There is a single unpalatable truth that ageing societies throughout the world must devote a bigger share of national wealth to meet the costs of people living longer, irrespective of the funding systems they use. Even if nothing is done, the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the percentage of GDP spent on long-term care will rise from 1.2 per cent to 1.9 per cent over the next 20 years - and it would still be a confusing and crummy system that leaves hundreds of thousands of people without the care they need. Bringing extra money into the system will be the biggest and toughest test, swimming against a choppy Treasury tide of fiscal caution."

The Guardian's Polly Toynbee criticises the plan as rewarding an already undeservedly rich baby boomer generation:

"The richest generation is my own - the 55- to 64-year-olds - which has enjoyed four housing booms that poured wealth into our pockets for doing nothing at all - and now Dilnot removes the risk of losing much of it when we reach decrepitude.
"So if the Dilnot plan is adopted, it should be balanced by other taxes. A mansion capital gains tax on the sale of homes sold over £1m (or less) would raise a hefty contribution to pay back some of the ill-gotten gains of my generation. Why do the over-60s pay no national insurance, however much they earn? Abolishing that would bring in £3bn, and that is enough to repair the shaming state of care."

Meanwhile the Sun editorial welcomes it as a "sensible" idea, for an issue which needs to be tackled:

"The downside is the £2billion a year needed to pay the rest of the bill. There is an understandable reluctance to pass it on to the beleaguered taxpayer. What the Government can't afford to do is bury its head in the sand. This problem will only get bigger."

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