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The short-sightedness of the social care funding review

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By Professor Peter Beresford OBE, Brunel University London's Emeritus Professor of Social Policy

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The House of Commons Joint Select Committees’ report on social care funding, released today, gets its analysis spot on. The system is at breaking point, change is long overdue and only a radical solution can tackle this problem.

But the same cannot be said of its policy proposals, where the emphasis again is wrongly on pushing the responsibility for growing numbers of older and disabled people in society back onto taxpayers. It calls for a further regressive shifting of the financial burden, with a new tax for the over-40s to help pay for elder care, although people in care homes would probably still have to contribute to their accommodation costs.

These over-40-year-olds, some of whom will still be bringing up children, others supporting students or acting as the bank of mum and dad and struggling to maintain ever-less rewarding private pension schemes, can now also expect to have to add this new tax to their insecurities and outgoings. As those on lower incomes and the ‘pressed middle’ read about the new multi-nationals like Google and Amazon that barely pay tax and see around them the local fabric of society unwinding as the high street fails with hiked council and other local taxes, we can only wonder what they will make of the imposition of yet another tax.

But no less to the point, this will not work; it is another example of political cowardice. The health and social care systems will never work properly together so long as they are differently organised and funded.

Social care will only be sorted when it is put on the same financial basis as is beloved of the NHS – a service essentially free at the point of delivery paid for out of general taxation.

But lurking behind all this has to be the fear that an underlying political destination is an NHS put on the same financial basis as present social care: paid for through additional taxation and at the point of delivery – in other words, no NHS at all.

To speak with Prof Beresford, please contact Brunel's Media Relations team.

(Main image: CC by Flickr/maewells)