Tag: Social Care

Charity survey shows three-quarters of adults in England back free personal care for over-65s

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An older people’s charity, Independent Age, is calling for free personal care for all those who need it in England, who are aged 65 and over, to help address the social care crisis. In a new survey conducted by YouGov, exclusively for Independent Age, the majority of adults in England said they would support paying more in tax or a lump sum to fund free personal care. 

Independent Age has released a new reportA Taxing Question: How to pay for free personal care, produced in conjunction with Grant Thornton UK LLP and The Social Market Foundation, which looks at various funding options for social care, including what they would cost the individual and what the funding situation might look like in 10 years’ time.

The YouGov poll of more than 2000 English working-age adults from a UK-wide sample, showed that almost three-quarters (74%) of adults in England support free personal care for everyone who needs it, with more than two-thirds of adults in England (69%) agreeing that they would be willing to pay more tax to provide free personal care for all, either through a small increase in Income Tax (27%), a small increase in National Insurance (25%), a new small tax for people aged between 40 and retirement age (11%) or paying a lump sum on retirement (6%). This high level of support is consistent across the political spectrum and demographic groups based on, gender, age and region. 

Some of the most viable options discussed in the report include increasing Income Tax and increasing National Insurance, these two options had the most support in the poll. Other options that would be viable include asking everyone between the ages of 40 and retirement age, and their employers, to pay a new small tax; or asking those who can afford it to pay a lump sum of £30,000 on retirement.

Looking at increasing all rates of Income Tax as an example, this would:

  • Generate an extra £6.10 billion in 2020/21 if raised by just 1%
  • Be able to provide free personal care for all in 2020/21 if raised by 1.09%
  • Be able to provide free personal care for all in 2030/31 if raised by 2.11%
  • Cost an individual earning the national average annual salary of £26,832 around an extra £12.47 a month if their Income Tax contribution was increased by 1%, which would equate to approximately £7,033 over 47 years (assuming their salary remained the same from 18 to 65).

Free personal care for all would mean providing the support a person needs for everyday activities, including things such as getting in and out of bed, getting dressed, preparing a meal or shopping. This type of care can be provided at home or in a care home, but does not include costs such as food, utilities or other expenses. 

It would also simplify the system, making it easier for people to know exactly how much they’d need to pay while receiving care, and what they’d get in terms of support in return, as well as making it quicker to transfer patients out of hospital. It would also mean that no-one would have to sell their home in order to pay for care. Furthermore, the cost of introducing free personal care is only slightly more in terms of cost than the government’s proposals to deliver social care reforms.

Free personal care at home for people aged 65 and over is currently available in Scotland, which shows that it is viable proposal. It has helped to integrate the care system with the NHS, because setting up care packages is less complicated, and does not need to include discussions about income. Overall NHS costs have decreased in Scotland, delayed transfers of care have decreased, and more people are receiving care at home, allowing them to retain their independence.

A social care system that is not means-tested puts it on the same level as the NHS, and provides a more equal service for those who need it. The report has tried to address some of the issues of the still underfunded Scottish model and offer solutions for sustainable, long-term funding.

However, the report says that there are no ‘easy solutions’, with no single funding option delivering the level of reform that the public want and older people need in ten years’ time. Some funding options, including increasing business rates or Corporation Tax, increasing Council Tax or Inheritance Tax, or charging National Insurance for the over 65s, fall far short of addressing the current social care funding gap.

The report discusses how the proposed funding mechanisms would achieve both the Government’s proposed “cap and floor” model and free personal care, concluding that ultimately the difference between the costs would be relatively small in government terms – around £1 billion in 2020/21, rising to £2 billion in 2030/31 – but that free personal care would result in significant benefits for all older people. A policy of free personal care for all would also send a clear message about how we, as a country, value older people.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, says, “Many older people are being let down by a social care system in crisis that is failing to meet their needs. Giving older people the right to free personal care would change that. Not only is it what people want, but they are also willing to pay a bit more tax to get it. It is simple and costs a similar amount to the government’s preferred proposals. 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.

“In addition, free personal care would significantly reduce the number of older people marooned in hospital due to lack of available personal care, support the joining-up of health and social care support and ultimately enable many more older people to live independently and stay in their own homes for longer.”

The government needs to recognise that if people are being asked to pay more, they need to be reassured that the system is better than it was, and has addressed previous failings, so that it meets the needs and expectations of older people in terms of both availability and quality.

Alex Khaldi, Partner and Head of Social Care Insights, Grant Thornton UK LLP, comments, “With public sector finances edging ever closer to a tipping point, this report marks an important contribution to the ongoing debate around the future of social care funding. Presenting the financial output of each funding option, along with the tax implications, provides a detailed picture of what should be seriously considered going forward.

“Time is running out to address the funding question surrounding the future of our struggling social care system, and it is vitally important that taxation is brought into the discussion to ensure we create a funding system that is fair for everyone. While we know there is no one easy option, this report makes it clear that many people are not adverse to the idea of increased taxation, as long as it is used as intended.

“We hope this analysis forms a useful part of the public debate to help address the growing gap between the increasing demands of a changing demographic and the funding of the system designed to support them.”

Independent Age is urging the government to introduce a social care contribution aligned to a commitment to provide free personal care, to help improve social care for older people, now and in the future. This will not only make it easier for people to navigate the system, but will also reduce NHS spending, make transfers of care from hospital faster, and will allow more people to live at home independently for longer.

It is also recommended that the government should allocate immediate funding to ensure the funding gap does not increase as a minimum. In the long-term, there needs to be a commitment within the NHS 10-year plan, and social care reforms, to radically reform public health and preventative care, to enhance older people’s independence.

 


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Osborne criticises the government’s manifesto, while charities are silenced by ‘gagging act’

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George Osborne, the architect of many an omnishambolic budget, has called the Conservative manifesto “the most disastrous in recent history” in a suprisingly critical editorial

The London Evening Standard derided the Tories’ campaign attempt to launch a “personality cult” around the prime minister. Osborne attacked Theresa May’s handling of Brexit as marred by “high-handed British arrogance”.  He said the campaign had “meandered from an abortive attempt to launch a personality cult around May to the self-inflicted wound of the most disastrous manifesto in recent history”.

He has already mocked May’s net migration target as “economically illiterate” and branded Brexit a “historic mistake” since becoming the London paper’s editor.

The editorial then mockingly suggested the current conversation among Downing Street aides would likely be along the lines of: “Honey, I shrunk the poll lead.”

The Evening Standard has also criticised the government’s manifesto meltdown over the  highly unpopular “dementia tax”, saying: “Just four days after the Conservative manifesto proposals on social care were announced, Theresa May has performed an astonishing U-turn, and bowed in the face of a major Tory revolt over plans to increase the amount that elderly homeowners and savers will pay towards their care in old age. 

There will now be a cap on the total care costs that any one individual faces. The details are still sketchy but it is not encouraging that the original proposals were so badly thought through.” 

In another article titled U-turn on social care is neither strong nor stable”, it says: “Current Tory leaders should have been ready to defend their approach. Instead we had a weekend of wobbles that presumably prompted today’s U-turn. The Pensions Secretary Damian Green was unable to answer basic questions in a TV interview about who will lose their fuel payments, and how much extra money will go into social care.

“Either the Government is prepared to remove these payments from millions of pensioners who are not in poverty, and don’t receive pension credit, and spend their substantial savings on social care; or they chicken out, target the tiny percentage of pensioners who are on higher tax rates, save paltry sums and accept the whole manoeuvre is a gimmick. Certainly, if the savings are to pay for a new care cap, then many pensioners will lose their winter fuel payment. This isn’t for consultation after an election — it’s an issue of honesty before an election.”

With the Tories’ poll lead diminishing, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has warned that the proposed “dementia tax” would become May’s version of the poll tax which led to Margaret Thatcher’s downfall.

Whilst Osborne is free to speak his mind, it’s an irony that many charities have complained they have been silenced from criticising the Conservative social care plans despite the fact they will be hugely damaging to elderly and disabled people across the country.

One chief executive of a major charity in the social care sector has told the Guardian that they felt “muzzled” by the Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill – a controversial legislation introduced in 2014  which heavily restricts organisations from intervening on policy during an election period.

The charity said May’s decision to means test winter fuel allowance would “inadvertently” result in some of the poorest pensioners in the country losing the support, adding that “will literally cost lives”.

The charity also claimed that the so-called “dementia tax” on social care in the home would stop people who need support from seeking it.

“We are ready to speak out at one minute past midnight on 9 June,” the charity leader added, but stressed they were too afraid to do so now.

Sir Stephen Bubb, who runs the Charity Futures thinktank but previously led Acevo, an umbrella organisation for voluntary organisations, said it was notable how quiet his sector had been about the policy.

He went on to say: “The social care proposals strike at the heart of what charities do but they should be up in arms about them but it hasn’t happened. It is two problems: there is the problem of the so-called “gagging act”, but also the general climate of hostility towards charities means there is a lot of self censorship.” 

“Charities that once would have spoken out are keeping quiet and doing a disservice to their beneficiaries. They need to get a bit of a grip.” 

He cited the example of the Prime Minister hitting out at the British Red Cross after its chief executive claimed his organisation was responding to a “humanitarian crisis” in hospitals and ambulance services.

May accused the organisation of making comments that were “irresponsible and overblown”.

It’s not the only time the Conservatives have tried to gag charities for highlighting the dire impacts of Tory policies. In 2014, MPs reported Oxfam to the Charity Watchdog for campaigning against poverty. I guess the Joseph Rowntree Foundation had better watch it, too. What next, will they be reporting the NSPCC for campaigning for children’s welfare?

'Lifting the lid on austerity Britain reveals a perfect storm - and it's forcing more and more people into poverty' tweeted Oxfam
Lifting the lid on austerity Britain reveals a perfect storm – and it’s forcing more and more people into poverty.

The Oxfam campaign that sent the Conservatives into an indignant rage and to the charity watchdog to complain was an appeal to ALL political parties to address growing poverty. Oxfam cited some of the causes of growing poverty in the UK, identified through research (above).

Tory MP Priti Patel must have felt that the Conservatives are exempt from this appeal, due to being the architects of the policies that have led to a growth in poverty and inequality, when she said: “With this Tweet they have shown their true colours and are now nothing more than a mouthpiece for left wing propaganda.”

I’m wondering when concern for poverty and the welfare of citizens become the sole concern of “the left wing”. That comment alone speaks volumes about the attitudes and prejudices of the Conservatives.

Bubb said: “That was a warning shot. So many charity leaders do feel that if they do speak out there will be some form of comeback on them. The Charity Commission has been notably absent in defending charity rights to campaign – the climate has been hostile to the charity voice.” 

There is some fear that charities face a permanent “chilling effect” after the Electoral Commission said they must declare any work that could be deemed political over the past 12 months to ensure they are not in breach of the Lobbying Act. 

Another senior figure also said charities were too afraid to speak out on the social care proposals. “We are all scared of the lobbying act and thus most of us are not saying much during the election. There was the same problem in the EU referendum – if you criticise the government then you are being “political”.

During the referendum a row broke out after the Charity Commission
issued guidelines that some charities interpreted as preventing them from making pro-EU arguments. 

Head of the organisation, William Shawcross, dismissed the charge by Margaret Hodge MP that his Euroscepticism was to blame for the issuing of the advice from the commission on when charities could intervene on the issue.

Steve Reed, shadow minister for civil society, said the Labour party would scrap the lobbying act because it had “effectively gagged” charities.

Vote Labour to uphold the rights of disabled people – our letter to the Guardian

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The following letter was published in the Guardian today, written and signed by a group of academics, professionals, campaigners and grassroots activists who work together cooperatively.

We collaborate to fulfil our mutual aims of achieving a progressive, civilised, just and safe society for all. We hope to do this by ensuring that the society we are a part of is democratic and fully inclusive: we want a civilised society that observes and meets its human rights obligations on behalf of all social groups. This isn’t happening currently. (See: UN’s highly critical report confirms UK government has systematically violated the human rights of disabled people).

As an independent researcher, writer, campaigner, and as a disabled person, I am very proud to be included among them. 

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Many disabled people see Labour’s policies as a lifeline, say the 30 signatories to this letter. 

For chronically ill and disabled people, recent years have been a disaster. The UN recently found “reliable evidence that the threshold of grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities has been met” (Report, 8 November 2016).

We have been forced through a work capability assessment that the government’s own expert adviser described as “inhumane”, and which in 2015 was found to be associated with an additional 599 suicides.

Many needing help are now forced through another persecutory assessment – the personal independence payment – designed to reduce the numbers qualifying for help by half a million.

Social care has been so savagely cut that some young disabled must wear incontinence pads for lack of toileting assistance. People can’t take any more of this.

Many disabled people are not party-political, but see Labour’s policies for disabled people as a lifeline – envisioning a society where people are treated as human beings deserving of respect, equality and a decent life. Please, don’t endorse recent human-rights abuses; endorse the human rights of disabled people by registering, and by voting Labour on 8 June.

Paul Atkinson Jungian psychotherapist
Stef Benstead Spartacus Network
Peter Beresford Co-chair, Shaping Our Lives
Gary Bourlet Founder, People First Movement in England
Dr Emma Bridger Research fellow in psychology
Professor Woody Caan Journal of Public Mental Health
Dr Kelly Camilleri Registered clinical psychologist
Merry Cross
Dr David Drew Labour Parliamentary candidate for Stroud
Nick Duffell Psychohistorian
Dr Simon Duffy Centre for Welfare Reform
Dr Dina Glouberman Skyros Holistic Holidays
Catherine Hale Chronic Illness Inclusion Project
AC Howard DWPexamination.org – For The UK’s Disabled Community
Chris Johnstone General practitioner
Sue Jones Psychologists Against Austerity, researcher and writer, campaigner
Jayne Linney Disability activist
Alec McFadden TUC Salford
Helen McGauley Trainee clinical psychologist, Lancaster University
Beatrice Millar Person-centred counsellor/psychotherapist
Rev Paul Nicolson Taxpayers Against Poverty
Gavin Robinson Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Professor Andrew Samuels University of Essex
Nicola Saunders Psychotherapist
Martyn Sibley Disability blogger
Mike Sivier Vox Political
Professor Ernesto Spinelli
Mo Stewart Independent researcher, disability studies
Gail Ward
Dr Jay Watts Queen Mary, University of London
Dr Claudia GillbergSenior Research Associate in Education; Fellow at Centre for Welfare Reform and Disability Rights Activist

Dr Richard House Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy

 

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters


I don’t make any money from my work. I am disabled because of illness and have a very limited income. The budget didn’t do me any favours at all.

But you can help by making a donation to help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others. The smallest amount is much appreciated – thank you.

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