A policy proposal that would help to address the serious and urgent problems affecting the provision of social care in the UK
The next government should:
1. Complete the welfare state by covering the costs of complex long-term social care, so that no individual or family faces ruinous costs or has to lose their home, as recommended in Policy Exchange’s report 21st Century Social Care.
2. Ensure that, like health care on the NHS, complex long-term social care is available on the basis of need – largely free at the point of delivery.
3. End the present means test for complex social care. The capital component of the test should be eliminated altogether and the means-testing charging regime should be changed into a limited co-payment regime of the order of £5,000 per person per year, means-tested on income.
4. This should not preclude additional private payments for extra services; and as a basis for consultation, the starting point for the co-payment should be around one and a half times average annual pensioner income – approximately £27,000.
5. Carry out a review of the assessment criteria and the thresholds of the need for care to ensure that there is consistency of provision across the country.
6. Encourage the NHS to work with the UK’s HealthTech sector, in areas like AI and robotics, that could lead to improvements in the delivery of social care.
7. Explore the potential of creating an interactive “My Social Care” app that can be used by patients and families to access information about care options.