YP Comment: Our debt of duty

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EVEN though pensioners are more likely to vote than other demographics, successive Chancellors have treated the issue of social care with contempt by putting short-term calculations before long-term needs. George Osborne bought himself some wriggle-room when he said that town halls could impose a two per cent levy on council tax bills – the scheming inference being that it was councillors and not the Treasury raising the tax threshold – while Theresa May reportedly forbade Philip Hammond from raising the issue in last month’s Autumn Statement so not to alienate ‘just about managing’ households.

George Osborne bought himself some wriggle-room when he said that town halls could impose a two per cent levy on council tax bills – the scheming inference being that it was councillors and not the Treasury raising the tax threshold – while Theresa May reportedly forbade Philip Hammond from raising the issue in last month’s Autumn Statement so not to alienate ‘just about managing’ households.

This uncertainty is, frankly, unfair to those pensioners dependent on the support of local agencies because of the frailty of their health. Having contributed to the Exchequer’s finances throughout their lives, they now feel guilty for being a burden to the state because of the serial failure of politicians to recognise that care costs will increase – and not fall – as an inevitable consequence of an ageing society. If this country is to honour its debt of duty to senior citizens, more money will have to be found – whether out of general taxation or an increase in the council tax surcharge.

In finalising its approach, the Government will be failing Britain if it does not set out a long-term funding plan – the inability of NHS hospitals to discharge elderly patients stems, in part, from under-investment in community care.

At the same time, Ministers need to acknowledge that taxpayers expect a greater share of their money to be spent on these vital services rather than being frittered away 
by bureaucrats with no sense of urgency.

Ros Altmann: A care revolution is needed as our population ages