King's Fund: Approaches to social care funding
It is widely accepted that the system for funding social care is in urgent need of reform. Faced with shrinking budgets, local authorities are struggling to meet the growing demand for care, linked to increasing complexity in need and an ageing population. As a result, the number of older people receiving publicly funded social care has declined. While in practice, much of this shortfall has been met by private spending and informal care; it is also likely that many people’s care needs are going unmet.
There is little sign of a long-term solution on the horizon. For those who have watched the progress of the social care system over the years, this is a familiar disappointment. Since 1998, there have been 12 green papers, white papers and other consultations, as well as five independent commissions, all attempting to grapple with the problem of securing a sustainable social care system. It has been called ‘one of the greatest unresolved public policy issues of our time’.
Against this background, the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund are undertaking work exploring options for the future funding of social care. This paper considers the following approaches to funding social care for older people in England:
- Improving the current system
- The Conservative Party’s proposals at the time of the 2017 general election (a revised means test and a cap on care costs)
- A single budget for health and social care
- Free personal care
- A hypothecated tax for social care