New survey reveals gap between expectation and reality in long-term care funding

A new survey reveals that there are three times more people who think a person's need should determine how care services are funded than those (23 per cent) who think it should be based on their income or assets, as is currently the case in the UK.

The YouGov survey was commissioned by the King's Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Age Concern and Help the Aged who have formed a major partnership with 11 other health and care organisations to generate a national debate on the future of long-term care funding. The partnership follows the 2006 funding recommendations from both the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Wanless Review for the King's Fund. The partnership, called Caring Choices, aims to consult older people, carers, professionals, care providers and commissioners of care services on options for reforming the current system of paying for long-term care in old age.

The survey found that while 58 per cent of respondents think the state should have the most responsibility for the cost of care, almost half (44 per cent) said they expect to have to rely on their own personal savings. Over a third of respondents (38 per cent) expect to rely on the NHS to fund their care, while 17 per cent think their care would be funded by their children.

In fact, beyond what is expected of the state, families and friends are assumed to be the next main providers of practical care and financial support for older relatives. But respondents also assume that the NHS would be a significant source of practical care (47 per cent), along with national and local government (42 per cent).

Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern, said: 'The gap between reality and expectation in social care is colossal. But there is hope. People, of all ages, recognise that they must play a role in providing social care. This coalition and the government must work together with providers, older people and carers to deliver a system that is fair, clear and sustainable. That is a challenge we must confront.'

Julia Unwin, Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: 'We need a new social care system that is clear, reliable and that will work for future generations. Understanding the views of citizens and the sort of choices they are prepared to make for their old age is an important first step in this process. Clearly understood entitlement is key to the future success of any new system.'

Mervyn Kohler, head of public affairs at Help the Aged, said: 'The case for shaking up our care services is incontrovertible but where there is controversy is how to pay for it. These findings show that the public expects to fund a reasonable amount from their personal assets, but with the state funding a greater share. It also shows that care services should be available on the basis of need, not simply a person's ability to stump up the cash for them.'

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the King's Fund, said: 'It is clear that the current long-term care system is complex, unfair and unsustainable for the future. It not only penalises people with moderate savings, but it also discourages hundreds of thousands from receiving the support they need. While the state cannot provide everything, these findings show that the public is prepared to contribute to the costs of their care. What we need now is a debate about roles, responsibilities and risks – and the trade-offs we are prepared to make as individuals and as a society to ensure we all get the care we need and deserve.'

The Caring Choices partnership is hosting seven regional debates across the UK to address the current failings of the care system and to look at potential solutions. The first debate was attended by over 100 older people, carers and professionals.

See our work on Caring Choices

Notes to editors: 

  1. All figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,306 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16 - 18 April 2007. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  2. Last year, Sir Derek Wanless conducted a review of social care funding for the King's Fund and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation put forward five affordable reforms as short-term practical solutions.
  3. You and Yours will today (Monday 7 May) air a special panel discussion on the future of social care, which took place at the first Caring Choices debate, held in Manchester on 26 April.

For further information about the Caring Choices partnership, or to request an interview with a spokesperson, contact one of the following press offices:

  • Help the Aged: Sophie Davison, tel. 020 7843 1561 
  • Age Concern: Sam Heath, tel. 020 8765 7512
  • King’s Fund: Daniel Reynolds, tel. 020 7307 2581
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Nasreen Memon, tel. 020 7278 9665

The Caring Choices partnership comprises of:

  • King’s Fund
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Help the Aged
  • Age Concern
  • ADASS
  • Association of British Insurers
  • Alzheimer’s Society
  • Carers UK
  • Counsel and Care
  • English Community Care Association
  • Local Government Association
  • Independent Age
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Social Care Institute for Excellence
  • The NHS Confederation

The forthcoming Caring Choices events taking place during 2007 will be at following dates and locations:

  • Friday 25 May in Birmingham
  • Friday 22 June in Bristol
  • Wednesday 4 July in Edinburgh
  • Thursday 13 September in Leeds
  • Tuesday 23 October in Taunton
  • Wednesday 14 November in London

These events are run on an invite-only basis. Those who work in health and social care and would like to attend, should contact Jo O’Rourke, event organiser, on 01273 326 165.