The government should introduce free adult social care for all as all other reform proposals will not in isolation address the funding gap and create a system that meets the needs of older people, according to a report commissioned by charity Independent Age.
The research by Grant Thornton, published today, assessed nine funding options, including raising income tax by 1%, charging the over-65s national insurance and increasing council tax and business rates.
The amount of money generated by each option was considered against the cost of either maintaining the current system at 2015-16 levels of demand, introducing a cap of £75,000 and floor of £100,000 on costs or introducing free personal care.
The analysis found there is a “relatively small difference” in terms of costs between introducing a cap and floor model and free personal care based on current eligibility, with free care costing £1bn more in 2020-21 and £2bn in 2030-31.
Independent Age say free personal care would not only provide significant benefits for older people but would also be popular with the public, reduce delayed transfers of care and promote health and social care integration.
Citing a YouGov poll which found more than two-thirds of people would be willing to pay more tax to provide free social care for all, Independent Age chief executive Janet Morrison said: “Not only is it what people want, but they are also willing to pay a bit more tax to get it.
“However, the government also needs to ensure people are getting the support they need, or the public will not tolerate contributing more in tax or other means to pay for social care.”
Chair of the Local Government’s Association’s health and wellbeing board Ian Hudspeth (Con) said the report is a “positive contribution to the debate on what sort of care and support people want and how we fund these vital services”.
President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Glen Garrod said: “The question isn’t just a technical one that seeks to find a suitable funding mechanism – as challenging as that is in its own right, it is also about what kind of adult social care we want to see and in consequence how much money will be needed to fund that model.
“This report offers a good insight into these two critical questions and arrives in a timely fashion.”