Green paper funding proposals focus on older people


Campaigners have welcomed a government green paper on reforming the funding of adult social care despite key concerns about vital aspects of the proposals.
The green paper offers three solutions for funding care and support through a new “National Care System”, each offering some state funding for everyone with needs above a certain threshold.
The three options all focusing on those needing care and support after reaching retirement age, are:
• A “partnership” approach, where everyone who qualifies for care and support would have a set proportion of the costs paid by the state, with more funding for the less well-off.
• An “insurance” approach, where the government paid a set proportion, but helped people secure insurance to cover the rest of their costs.
• A “comprehensive” approach, where everyone would receive free care when they needed it. In return, all those who could afford it would contribute to a state insurance scheme after they reached retirement age.
With all three approaches, most working age disabled people would be likely to receive all their care free.
This is because the green paper says most people who are disabled from birth, or become disabled during their working lives, “are likely to have lower incomes and so will struggle to meet the cost of their care and support”.
But a question-mark remains over where the government will set the threshold for eligibility for care and support, which the government said would be decided after the consultation period.
The green paper also suggests that attendance allowance – for care needs that develop after the age of 65 – could be scrapped, to help fund the new system. It also hints that other disability benefits could be scrapped.
Steve Ford, chief executive of the Parkinson’s Disease Society, welcomed much of the green paper but said he was “alarmed” that attendance allowance could be used to “help underwrite some of the costs of the new system”, as it was “vital” to maintaining the independence of people with Parkinson’s.
The green paper also asks whether levels of spending should be set nationally and funded through taxes, or whether councils should retain some responsibility for deciding how much care and support individuals should receive.
15 July 2009