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'Inheritance levy' being considered

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Plans are being considered for people in England and Wales to pay a one-off ‘inheritance levy’ of up to £12,000 in return for free long-term social care in their old age, according to reports.

Such a fee could either be paid on a person’s retirement or taken from their estate when they die.

The Observer reports that the idea in a forthcoming greenpaper is intended to replace the politically-sensitive system that can force pensioners to sell their homes to fund nursing home bills.

The green paper on long-term care is expected to be published later this month, the paper says, but the details are still being finalised.

The levy will be one of several options for reform in the green paper, it added, but is seen as having potential as a popular policy for next year’s election.

Stephen Burke, of the charity Counsel and Care, which estimates an inheritance tax levy could raise up to £2.9bn, told the Observer it was the fairest way to spread the costs of an increasingly elderly population.

Medical treatment for the elderly is free on the NHS but social care - the costs of living in a home or meals-on-wheels - is not, with wide variations in what councils provide.

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