The Conservative Party has launched into the debate over social care funding with plans for a social insurance system costing just £8,000 per person that would cover residential care costs for life.
The ‘Home Protection Scheme’ would be voluntary, with the one-off fee paid at 65.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “This scheme is a genuinely huge step forward for England’s care system and will lift a major weight of worry from the shoulders of older people.”
But the plan has drawn scepticism from local government, with questions raised over whether it will lead to older people leaving their own homes unnecessarily.
The Local Government Information Unit’s Amelia Walker said: “If residential care was the only thing covered by insurance it would be a big incentive to go into a residential home.
“This is a retrograde step because the whole direction of travel has been to get people away from residential homes,” she added.
The incomplete nature of both proposals has led to warnings that a solution will only be found by considering social care as a complete system.
Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Jenny Owen said: “Doing one thing at the expense of looking at the whole system isn’t the right way to do it.
“What’s helpful is to put in the public arena some very significant commitments that social care funding can’t stay as it is and needs to change.”
King’s Fund senior fellow for social care Richard Humphries said: “The proposal is very interesting and addresses part of the problem in the same way free personal care might, but it’s what it sits alongside and the overall package that determines whether it works.”