Err, why?

Boris Johnson has pledged that no-one will have to sell their house to pay for social care under a Conservative government, as he announced a £5 billion cash injection to ease the current funding crisis.

The Prime Minister will “end the injustice” of people having to sell their family home by seeking a cross-party agreement on how to pay for the soaring costs of caring for the elderly and disabled.

Think it through for a moment.

Someone who does not buy a house but stick the money into a pension will have to pay for their social care. Someone who buys instead of pensions will not. Why is that fair?

Now, if you were to say that no one should have to pay for social care I’d insist you’re wrong but you’re being reasonable. But why the house among all possible investments and lifetime spendings?

24 thoughts on “Err, why?”

  1. Tim

    Ans: Because there’s an election going on with an opposition doing nothing but offer Free Stuff and if he didn’t offer some of his own he loses.

    Qu: Do you still do that feature “Questions in the Guardian we can answer”?

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    They were right in 2017 but the cack-handed way they introduced the policy was idiotic and it cost them dearly.

    This is just more evidence of Dominic Cummings clearing all obstacles to a win. Its probably more costly in economic and social terms than the original policy, but for him Brexit or bust.

  3. Stating the obvious… I guess because, for many low or middle-income families, unlike their pension, it’s the only asset they can pass to their children or grandchildren. Why should ‘they’ pay care costs, they say, when people in social housing have their care funded by taxpayers. It’s not unrelated to your ‘tied cottages’ post. Who gets to win the lottery of a social-housing home in Chelsea or Knightsbridge on a peppercorn (heavily subsidised) rent. I don’t necessarily agree with either premise, and my assumption regarding others’ motives may be wrong. However, governments of every shade have been trying to sort the care cost problem since the dawn of time, but are frightened no one will vote for it. Theresa May wrongly thought she was so far ahead in the polls it was doable.

  4. Theresa May wrongly thought she was so far ahead in the polls it was doable.

    I’m glad she did. It’s that particular combination of incompetence and hubris that allowed them to oust the FFC!

    Then again, Boris seems only a marginal improvement at times. Still an improvement over Jezza though.

  5. If there is a principle at stake here, surely it’s a wider one.

    Why is the treatment of cancer and all sorts of other illnesses paid for by the state but not one class of illness, ie dementia type illnesses. Isn’t that the real question?

    If it’s simply quantum, then presumably the quantum limits might apply to any illness, cancer, dementia or other.

    Hence, I can see the argument for saying that, if we must have an NHS which is free for all to deal with illness (and that doesn’t simply stop someone’s cancer treatment after it hits a certain cost), then what’s so different about dementia (or any other illness)?

  6. PF…

    An old golfing partner of mine has recently been consigned to a care home. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he has become too unruly to take care of at home. The lad’s self-funded at £6k/month – a not inconsiderable sum when there’s also dependents to consider.

  7. My wife and I wrote a six figure SDLT cheque to HMT for the privilege of being allowed to own the 5 bed semi in which we and our young family currently live. That ought to pay for a few years of “carers” thanks. Especially, given the fact that the government gets to “invest” that money and I only want the service from a number of decades from now.
    Weak, certainly, but an argument of sorts.

  8. @ Charlie T

    Cheer up, one of the plans being mulled over is that in the future SDLT would be paid by the seller of the property so if you ever downsize or move abroad you’ll be hit twice on the same property.

    Aren’t politicians lovely.

  9. “An old golfing partner of mine has recently been consigned to a care home. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he has become too unruly to take care of at home. The lad’s self-funded at £6k/month – a not inconsiderable sum when there’s also dependents to consider.”

    If you know how to play the game that should be covered by the NHS. My old family doctor’s wife was in a care home with the same condition for over 10 years, he never paid a penny towards her care, his big house was passed on to his kids when he died. He knew how to ensure the NHS picked up the tab you see. The trick is to not let the patient come home after the diagnosis – if they go straight from an NHS hospital to a care home the NHS are liable for the care, once a person gets back to their own home it falls under the Local Authority’s responsibilities, and they will take the house to pay for care.

  10. Jim,

    How would that work for a cancer diagnosis? Goes home initially. Of course it will get worse, and will then need increasing amounts of both treatment and care subsequently.

  11. I’ve said here before, the government has sorted the old age care/pension problem by passing a law. It’s called the Climate Change Act.

    When we’re well on our way to net zero emissions, a nice big anti-cyclone will settle over us one January. Temperatures will plummet, the wind won’t blow and even those pensioners that can afford the sky-high cost of electricity will be subject to power cuts.

    Since we won’t have any gas central heating or cooking, us oldies will be turning up our toes by the million.

    Result, pension costs down, old age care costs down and lots of empty houses. Mind you, the economy will be so fucked by then, it won’t make much difference.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    Cancer is a random disease that can strike at any time (My mother was in her ’40s, father ’50s and youngest brother dies 6 weeks before his 40th birthday.

    Cancer patients receive a lot of care and money from charities because of the extra costs involved eg increased heating, they don’t get it (or didn’t, I haven’t heard any cases recently) from the State if they have funds. There was a fuss recently that Macmillan were giving cash to people to cover debts, they don’t give it to people who have their own funds. The State doesn’t run hospices, although they provide some support.

    Growing old and decrepit and needing care is something that can and should be planned for. The fact that Alzheimer’s (by and large a collections of age related diseases) is incidental, most of the people I know who have/had the disease would have needed care anyway. The only difference is that we haven’t go a massive charity sector providing support .

    Jim, Thanks for the tip. SiL is currently hospital bound and looks like she’ll need to go in to a care home so I’ll make sure her daughters watch out for it.

  13. “How would that work for a cancer diagnosis? Goes home initially. Of course it will get worse, and will then need increasing amounts of both treatment and care subsequently.”

    Cancer isn’t something that people can live with for years AND require intensive personal care as well. You’re either capable of living at home, with trips to hospital for treatment etc, or you’re terminally ill in which case hospital or a hospice is likely to be where you end up when things become too difficult to stay at home. Generally speaking you’re not going to find people in care homes with manageable cancers for long periods of time unless they also have some other illness/frailty that requires them to be there.

  14. @BiND: just make sure they’re aware of it, the NHS will very sneakily try to get people out of hospital and back home, if only for a few weeks/months, just to break their duty of care. If they are pushing you have to leave, have an argument ready as why going home is not feasible – the house isn’t suitable, the spouse is to old/frail to care, they live alone and carers would not be sufficient, family all work away etc etc. If the destination is going to be a care home for long term dementia/Alzheimer’s reasons, be very careful not to fall into the ‘We’ll do our best to keep them at home for a bit longer until they have to go into care’ trap, the NHS will leap at the chance to off load if the family volunteer.

  15. Every time I’ve moved from one home to another home, I’ve had to sell the previous home to fund the next home. So why should it be any different just because the next home is a care home?

  16. …sell their house to pay for social care…

    If you’re paying directly then it isn’t social (apart from the quality).

    Make it all private with charity helping the poorest? Dunno. Massive problem only getting bigger.

    I hope I get sufficient warning signs of any terminal decrepitude. Then it’s charcoal suicide time.

  17. Großer: Klientelpolitik.

    What’s the English for that, Mr Bison?

    Apologies for the late arrival here. Resourceful inmates will by now have replaced the extreme “k”s with “c”s and got the gist, I’m sure.

    Maybe like Willi Brandt’s Ostpolitik the term will gain wider usage. It’s about time that Schadenfreude was pensioned off by erudite commentators so this could be the new badge of cultural and linguistic one-upmanship.

  18. @ jgh
    +1
    I’ve told my family that if I go into care I’ll have to pay for it and that includes the house that I shall no longer need (actual sale delayed until my wife dies if she outlives me)
    Generally:
    It’s all bullshit
    He is talking about doing it through a cross-party consensus – by the time they get one he’ll be in a care home himself.

  19. by the time they get one he’ll be in a care home himself

    Why would they keep Boris’ dead body in a care home? Plus…wasn’t he meant to be “dead in a ditch” (his own words) by now? Since we’ve extended the extension (yet again)

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