Polly\’s Ideas on Care

While she is at least being inventive, I don\’t think she\’s quite grasped the major problem here.

James Lloyd of the International Longevity Centre has produced an ingenious social insurance scheme the Department of Health is studying with enthusiasm. The joy of this scheme is that it is voluntary: payment only applies to the over-65s, when people really are thinking about care, and people can choose how they pay. This is the proposal: at 65 everyone with the money or property to afford it is asked to pay £15,000 as a lump sum to an independent national care fund. Or they can pay a set sum a month. Or they can have it taken from their estate after death. (The state would pay into the fund for pensioners with no assets.) Everyone would pay automatically unless they opt out, which they can but only after a one-to-one session warning them that they will pay all their care themselves, at a far higher private cost.

Gamblers can calculate the odds. Half of women and a third of men will need intensive long-term care: residential care costs about £22,000 a year. Many others will need expensive extra care in their own home. So most wise families would opt in: inertia would favour it, anyway. The sum of £15,000 assumes current care standards, but it might be quite a lot more if the public demands higher universal standards. But the scheme guarantees the same minimum level wherever people live; and administratively, one fund entirely independent of the Treasury would save the current cost of 185 councils each trying to chase the private assets of each well-off pensioner to recover care costs. Best of all, this takes only from the already retired.

This voluntary, late-in-life or after-death payment scheme ticks every box. Above all, it reminds people, as the NHS did in 1948, that paying collectively to insure against financially crippling risks is the wisest as well as the fairest way.

That major problem being that we\’re still right where we started, even if at a higher level of finance. We\’re dependent upon whatever the State decides to offer us. For we\’ve already paid and thus have no leverage at all over what gets provided.

We have the same situation with the NHS: our taxes are used to provide what the producers think we should have. With education: our taxes are used to give us what the producers think we should have. And when you compare what we do get offered to what is available from the private sector in both fields, well, let\’s be polite and say that there\’s a certain disparity in standards shall we?

The same would inevitably be true of long term care for the elderly. Once we\’ve handed over the money there is no leverage for us to get what we desire, rather than what people desire to give us.

Surely the lesson has sunk in by now? As the last ten years have shown us, it\’s not the financing of public services which is a problem, it\’s the structure of their delivery. Or doesn\’t she think that we\’ve tested the throw more money at them solution to destruction already?

17 thoughts on “Polly\’s Ideas on Care”

  1. Tim, I think you’ve got this one wrong. With direct payments and individual budgets in social care – where you are assessed on your level of need and then given the money to address those needs however you see fit – is one of the areas in which this government is going in exactly the direction you want them to.

  2. There’s no need for the state to be involved except that it’s always going to be because the elderly have a lot of votes and their main asset – housing — is the only investment that for some reason one cannot sell to pay for other things.

  3. “This is the proposal: at 65 everyone with the money or property to afford it is asked to pay £15,000 as a lump sum to an independent national care fund. Or they can pay a set sum a month. Or they can have it taken from their estate after death.”

    Why not just simply take it out of the NI and Income Tax money they’ve been paying all their lives?

    Where has that gone…?

  4. Aren’t these quango brainstorms the result of the Treasury’s announcement that OAP care might cost an extra £6 billion over 20 years? Er…£9 billion on the Olympian vanity project… £500 billion+ state spending in one year – surely £6billion over 20 years is a drop in the ocean?

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    Well it is a step in the right direction. She accepts that perhaps individuals have the right to make some of their own decisions for themselves. What she needs to do now is allow that money to be used to buy private care and for professional insurance companies to be allowed to offer schemes to the elderly. Once she has accepted that some of us shouldn’t be Serfs, it is hard to argue that any of us should be.

  6. Can I sue the government for mis use of National Insurance funds which were paid (extorted) over nearly fifty years? That would be needed to pay this latest impost. Basically they want to steal my property, bought out of taxed income, so they can give it to some idler who pays no tax or N I. What term did the directors of Enron get?

  7. Julia M “Where has that money gone?” our pensions and welfare are pay-as-you-go, today’s pensioners aren’t getting their own money back, you and I are paying for it.

  8. Derek, who says they want to steal your property? It’s your choice whether to sell it to pay for a holiday, more spending in later life or for care home fees.

    It is the fact that these care home fees are means tested that is spiteful, either everybody gets it or nobody should get it, that’s how I see it.

  9. “Basically they want to steal my property, bought out of taxed income, so they can give it to some idler who pays no tax or N I.”

    You’re already paying anyway.

    The caretaker of our building recently complained bitterly (“it’s bloody outrageous”) about the local council (Camden) which haven’t yet given his daughter (unemployed) and her (unemployed, ex-felon) partner a bigger council flat even though she’s expecting a third child.

  10. “our pensions and welfare are pay-as-you-go, today’s pensioners aren’t getting their own money back, you and I are paying for it”

    So, there’s been some drastic miscalculation?

    Or is this the ‘we are all living longer’ problem and today’s pensioners are therefore ‘outliving’ their NI and tax ‘earnings’…?

  11. “Or is this the ‘we are all living longer’ problem and today’s pensioners are therefore ‘outliving’ their NI and tax ‘earnings’…?”

    It’s probably the ‘Oops, because it all goes into the same pot we lost track, have already spent the money on other things and now we need to find some more to make up the difference’ problem

  12. There’s nothing particular odd about a government having Pay As you Go pensions, I very much doubt it would have done better if it had created a fund than the rate of the taxable base.

  13. “professional insurance companies to be allowed to offer schemes to the elderly”: many did, and couldn’t make a go of it.

  14. …..There’s nothing particular odd about a government having Pay As you Go pensions……

    No there isn’t but if we do it its called a pyramid scheme and we go to jail.

  15. I’m with Serf on this.

    We have a contract with these people who call themselves the government. We paid them, and they undertook to provide us with services.

    Taking the payments and then not providing the aforementioned service , is called larceny. And none of HMG’s excuses would pass muster in a criminal trial.

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