Saving for Social Care
Jeremy Hunt is right – people will need private savings to help fund later life care: Politicians have talked about social care for years, but have ducked the difficult decisions required to address this time and again. Despite knowing that numbers needing care will rise inexorably, policymakers have not set aside public money, or encouraged private provision to pay for care. The quality of care has suffered, many companies cannot afford to deliver decent care within the council budgets, and the screaming headlines from recent days continue to highlight that this crisis is just getting worse.
There is no money set aside for care: There is almost no money earmarked to pay for the care people will require – not at public or private level. Estimates suggest that around half the population over age 65 will need to spend at least £20,000 on later life care, and one in ten will spend over £100,000.
Problem is worse for older women than for men: The CII Report released yesterday on Risks in women’s lives found that this is a much worse problem for women. The median man over age 65 will need to spend around £37,000 on later life care, but the median woman will need around £70,000. Where will this money come from? It either has to come from councils on a draconian means-tested basis, or the NHS (when early intervention or prevention is not funded), or individuals and their families who suddenly find themselves faced with huge spending they had not prepared for. And of course older women are less able to save for their future needs because they are more likely to have to cut down or stop working to provide care for loved ones – society takes this free female caring for granted.
Families will need to prepare for some costs, but they need help: Local authority care funding is subject to one of the strictest means-tests. Most people will receive no help from the state until they have used up the bulk of their assets (down to £23,250) and until their needs are considered ‘substantial’, causing significant distress to many families and leaving the majority of families without the care their loved ones or they need. Many suddenly have to find significant sums at short notice. Ideally, money is needed for prevention and early intervention, so that people can have a little help or pay for measures that will ensure they are safer and less likely to fall. But they need to know what to do.
Products for care funding are inadequate: There are some products already on the market to help people pay for care but they are expensive and will not help with prevention. These include Immediate Needs Annuities, Equity Release and local authority deferred payment plans, but each has advantages and disadvantages and they only help at the point of need, rather than allowing people to make plans in advance.