Care-less attitude doesn’t bode well…
Hot on the heels of the Chancellors pension freedoms comes the news that the changes to the long-term care system that were designed to make long term care more affordable are being delayed until the next government. 2020 is now the stated date for the introduction of the reforms based on the Dilnot report, although they were due to go live in April 2016.
It is clear from the lack of noise on the subject from the government that it is not even sure to happen then. Throughout the general election campaign, the issue of long-term care was only notable for its absence. It was apparent that the establishment as such were quietly distancing themselves from it.
The reform is seen as an overly expensive policy because the cost of care is going to be so huge. Therefore the further the government stay away from it, the less likely they are to get caught up in having to provide ever-increasing amounts to the system. Instead, we are right back in the position where anyone with any assets is likely to see them swallowed up by the enormous cost of assisted living in the latter part of their retirement. It is as if Dilnot Report had never been produced.
This is a severe blow to all those who have been campaigning for reform in the whole care area. It is difficult to get the general public to take the issue seriously as nobody wants to think about being in the position of actually needing long-term care. Sadly, by the time they do need it, it is too late to do anything about it except pay for it from existing assets. In most people’s case this means that their house will have to be liquidated if the cost of care mounts too high.
And so stealthily, without bringing any attention to it, the government has continued on its path of stopping thinking about the future. The pension freedoms, allowing people the opportunity to blow a lifetime savings rather than being forced to eke them out over their lifetime have been followed by a slide in the timetable for resolving the issue of long term care, leaving a potential bill for future taxpayers that could be disastrously high.
From a public policy point of view, it is as if the last 20 years never happened and the country is back to ignoring the problems that so much money and so many hours were put into considering. Shelves of reports on how to manage and pay for an ageing population are being disregarded whilst the time bomb of increasing longevity keeps ticking. If the government keep pressing forward with such a short-term viewpoint, then the problem of long-term care will overwhelm the UK by the middle of the century and we’ll have blown our chance to prepare for it.
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