Why 'national embarrassment' social care should move to insurance model

The social care system should be reformed so individuals pay for what they want while the state covers what they need, a new report says.

The centre-right Centre for Policy Studies think tank said a system where the state guarantees a reasonable level of care and accommodation, with individuals encouraged to top up their provision beyond that via insurance, is preferable to the one proposed by the Dilnot Commission in 2011.

The commission, chaired by the former head of the UK Statistics Authority Sir Andrew Dilnot, recommended a “capped-care costs” model which would reduce the number of people needing to sell their home to pay for their care.

It would not eliminate the problem completely, however, as they would still have to cover daily living costs of around £12,000 a year.

Reform is needed, the report says, because by 2040 the number of people needing help with daily activities is expected to increase by 67% to 5.9 million.

This is expected to rise to 7.6 million by 2070.

When he entered Downing Street in 2019 Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”.

However, Tory MP Damian Green, former work and pensions secretary, said it is a “national embarrassment” the issues have not yet been tackled.

He added: “The failure to address social care properly has become a national embarrassment.

“It should be near the top of the Government’s post-Covid agenda.

“Using our successful pensions system as a model, combining a universal entitlement with strong incentives for millions of people to make their own extra provision, is the most practical route to a stable and well-resourced social care sector.”

Jethro Elsden, the report’s co-author, said Covid-19 meant the care system needed “urgent” reform.

He added: “The coronavirus crisis has underlined how precarious the current funding situation is.

“We cannot continue to go on talking about reforming the system but never getting round to actually doing it.

“If the social care sector is going to remain viable and begin to create the extra capacity to meet rising demand, both for domiciliary and residential care, then we urgently need to reform the way the system is currently funded.”

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