Ambitious White Paper is welcome but leaves many grey areas

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Welcoming the government's White Paper on social care reform, Dr Anna Dixon, acting chief executive of The King's Fund, said:

'The government has set out a bold and ambitious plan for reform which, if realised would establish a National Care Service free at the point of need. Defining a national entitlement would mean that people receive help based on their needs, not their postcode – a major achievement that would tackle the perceived unfairness of the current social care system.

'However, the White Paper leaves a number of key questions unanswered. What level of need will be covered? How much is it going to cost and who will foot the bill? The absence of any costings makes it difficult to assess how affordable these plans are and how sustainable they would be in the long term. Our own analysis suggests the introduction of free personal care would see net public spend rise from £10.7bn in 2015 to £16.8bn in 2026.'

'We welcome a staged approach but this will only work if detailed proposals are set out without delay. While political consensus is vital further deliberation could slow down the momentum for reform.

'We know that public services face an unprecedented squeeze on resources over the next four years at a time when care services will face increasing demographic need. Whoever wins the next election must ensure that reform begins as soon as possible.'

Notes to editors

  1. The King’s Fund recently published options for reform, updating the report published by the Fund in 2006 following a major review of social care led by Sir Derek Wanless. It concludes that a revised version of the ‘partnership model’ proposed by the original Wanless report is the fairest way of funding social care. The report includes fully costed options for reform and can be downloaded from The King's Fund website. 
  2. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund media and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2603. If you are calling out-of-hours, please ring 07584 146035. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  3. 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.