Recent reports have suggested the Social Care Green Paper, which was first promised in the March 2017 Budget, has been delayed until the autumn because of arguments at the highest level of Government over controversial proposals such as paying into a US insurance-style scheme to receive a higher standard of care.
Because of this policy vacuum, it is no surprise to see others putting forward some radical suggestions of their own. Left-leaning think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research is suggesting free social care to over-65s, which it claims could save the NHS £4.5 billion a year by enabling more elderly people to get care in the community. The think-tank rightly highlights the current unfairness of a health system which expects those who develop dementia to run up potentially ruinous costs in paying for their own care, in contrast to the free treatment rightly provided to those with cancer.
However, the move would involve doubling spending on adult social care on over-65s from £17 billion annually to £36 billion in 2030 – something the IPPR says could be funded by increasing income tax by two per cent. There are ultimately no painless solutions to the situation available – but the Government must stop dragging its heels and start making vital decisions.