The King's Fund sets out blueprint for social care reform

New, fairer funding arrangements, a review of the current settlement for older people and reforms to the benefits system are among the proposals put forward in a major new report on the social care system by The King's Fund today.

Securing good care for more people updates the review of social care led by Sir Derek Wanless published by the Fund in 2006. The new report concludes that a revised version of the 'partnership model' proposed by the Wanless review is the fairest way of funding social care in the future. This would see the state guaranteeing to pay 50 per cent of everyone’s care costs and 'matched funding' for individual contributions to encourage people to save for their old age.

New research carried out for the report shows the cost of the current system is set to double over the next 15 years, with no improvement in outcomes. In contrast, the reforms proposed by the Fund would halve unmet need by significantly increasing the amount of care people receive and see around 50 per cent more people helped than under the current system.

The key recommendations in the report are:

  • The revised partnership model should be adopted as the basis for a new funding settlement for social care. Decisions about whether individual contributions should be voluntary or compulsory should follow on from this.
  • Plans to improve the delivery of care and support should be stepped up, with particular emphasis on more personalised services and driving up quality.
  • A review of the current settlement for older people should be undertaken. This could consider, for example, the default retirement age, the re-indexation and level of the basic state pension and timetable for raising the state pension age.
  • A long term, staged approach to reform should be adopted to ensure fairness between the generations. This must be based on political consensus and an all-party road map for reform.

The report also recommends reforms to Attendance Allowance, which could release up to £3 billion in savings by 2026 to help fund a more coherent, simplified and generous care system. It shows that these savings could be achieved while protecting current recipients and ensuring that those on low incomes continue to receive equivalent payments in future.

Dr Anna Dixon, Interim Chief Executive of The King's Fund, said: 

'The current social care system often falls short of meeting the needs of the people who rely on it and will not be able to cope with increasing demand for services as the population ages. The people who stand to benefit most from our proposals are those on moderate and middle incomes who are heavily penalised by the current system.'

Richard Humphries, Senior Fellow at the Fund and the report's lead author, said:

'This report sets out a blueprint for a fairer, more generous and affordable system that we hope will form the basis of a cross-party agreement on social care reform, whoever wins the general election. If a long-term view is taken, these proposals are affordable and achievable.'

Read the report: Securing good care for more peopl: options for reform

Notes to editors: 

  1. Securing good care for more people: options for reform is published by The King’s Fund. It was written by Richard Humphries (Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund), Professor Julien Forder (Deputy Director of PSSRU at the  University of Kent, Principal Research Fellow at the LSE and Senior Associate at The King’s Fund) and Jose-Luis Fernandez (Deputy Director of PSSRU at LSE).
  2. Securing good care for older people: taking a long-term view, the report of the Wanless social care review was published by The King’s Fund in 2006.
  3. The revised partnership model would see the state guarantee to pay 50 per cent of everyone’s care costs, with those who can afford to paying a top up to fund the full cost of their care. For every £2 paid by the individual, the state would also contribute an additional £1, providing people with an incentive to save for their old age.
  4. Attendance Allowance is a non-means tested benefit paid to people over the age of 65 to help with the additional costs of disability.
  5. The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.