The time has come to care about care
Posted on Oct 15, 2018
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In a recent blog on the BBC website health correspondent, Nick Triggle, talked about ‘an issue which is causing much angst in Westminster’. It’s not Brexit though – but what to do about paying for care in later life in England.
He says: The Tories have already had their fingers burnt by the problem - last year's election campaign was nearly derailed by the so-called ‘dementia tax’, forcing the Prime Minister into a U-turn only days after announcing the policy. Ministers took the sting out of the issue by promising to publish new plans by the summer. That slipped to autumn - and now I am told the Green Paper is likely to be closer to Christmas.
Why the hesitation? In truth, it is an issue that governments have ducked for more than 20 years - Tony Blair was talking about reform as he came to power in 1997.”
Nick Triggle continues by saying that the system is ‘fiendishly complex’. Those that are lucky enough to qualify for help are finding that the amount of care they get is ‘pretty limited’, while self-funders can find themselves paying out tens of thousands of pounds in their final years.
It was a subject which was covered by Baroness Ros Altmann CBE at the SOLLA 10th Anniversary Conference at Central Hall, Westminster on Tuesday 9 October. Our advisers, Neil Whitaker and Andy Kirk – who have attained the Later Life Adviser Accreditation and are proud to be full members of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) – both attended the conference.
Baroness Altmann began her presentation with the good news that, as a nation, we are living longer and that there is a rising number of older people with more assets for their future. She emphasised the important role of advice to help people plan later life finances and said that there has been a ‘massive failure of Government policy, leaving people unprepared’ for their later years.
She continued by saying that public policy for retirement income is focused on pensions and that 21st century retirement needs more than pension income. The current system is in crisis and if you want ‘better or earlier care, you must pay’. Baroness Altmann said that self-payers were subsidising local authority underspend and women were the most at risk but the least prepared.
As Nick Triggle said in his blog, we are still waiting for the Government’s Green Paper on social care, while the general public has been left confused, with many not understanding that the NHS only pays for health and not social care.
Baroness Altmann suggested that a savings-based reform was the way ahead. She said that babyboomers have savings, but don’t know they should earmark some for care. She said we need new savings incentives to signal publicly the need to prepare; perhaps a Care ISA, which could be inheritance tax free if kept as a care fund for the next generation.
She went on to talk about how employers could help with saving for care with schemes such as auto enrolment into workplace care arrangements, where perhaps a pay rise could be diverted into a pre-funded care plan. She also looked at carers’ leave for eldercare and introducing homecare or eldercare vouchers. It was, she acknowledged, all too late for babyboomers, but they still needed advice.
With an audience made up of predominately SOLLA advisers, such as ourselves, it was no surprise that Baroness Altmann highlighted that advisers have a vital role to play in helping clients to prepare in advance for possible care costs. Care, she emphasised, was not just about old people but families and loved ones too
Baroness Altmann concluded by saying that the fact we are living longer should be great news… but that Government needs a New Deal for 21st century retirement. Pensions alone are not enough, especially for women. We are not prepared in the UK for future care needs – there’s no funding and the NHS can’t cope.
Here at Goodman Care Fees Advisers we specialise in providing truly independent advice to clients, deputies and attorneys on later life financial planning issues, including how to meet the cost of care fees.
We’ll make you aware of the various options, explaining clearly how they work and help you to reach an informed decision that you feel happy with.
Click here to find out how we can help you.