Government ministers are said to be considering a radical plan for people over 40 to pay more tax and national insurance to help fund social care.
Reports over the weekend suggested those reaching the milestone birthday would have to pay extra – or have to take out insurance against ending up in a care home.
The Guardian said the additional money would then be used to pay for the help elderly people need when trying to care for themselves.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all” – and his new health and social care taskforce and the Department of Health and Social Care are now looking at the idea, the Express reports.
Some reports suggested Health Secretary Matt Hancock is a keen supporter of the plan, but sources said there were “vast differences in opinion” within the government.
They added the proposed move could further frustrate people who will have paid – or are still paying off – their student loans, as well as those having a mortgage to pay and the cost of bringing up children.
Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, has backed the move, and said: “Some older people may look askance at the idea of only the over-40s paying to fund a new national care system.
“However, if that’s what our Government is considering embracing here than it may be rather a good deal, since that system offers a level of provision and reassurance that we can only dream of here at the moment.”
Former Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow, who was Social Care Minister in the Conservative coalition Government from 2010-12 and is now chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, added: “Introducing an insurance contribution from the over-40s would help put social care on a firm footing for the future.
“This approach has already been adopted in other countries on a mandatory basis to ensure risk is fairly spread and sufficient funds are raised.”
He warned any reform of the social care sector needs to “avoid the lottery of huge lifetime care bills”.
Earlier this month, Sir Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said he hopes progress will be made within the next 12 months over how the UK can solve the social care crisis.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said on Thursday: “We remain committed to bringing forward a plan for social care so everybody is treated with dignity and respect, and nobody has to sell their home to pay for care.”