The government has bought some time to find a sustainable solution for social care.
The spring budget delivered £2bn of new funding for social care over three years from 2017‑18 and a commitment to publish a green paper outlining options for future funding. The government’s decision to find additional resources reflects the huge pressures facing social care in England, which the Care Quality Commission described as near “tipping point,” and the effect of these pressures on the NHS. These resources will go some way towards stabilising social care, even though they fall short of the sums independent commentators have argued are needed to bridge the expected funding gap by the end of this parliament.
The announcement of a green paper, planned for the autumn, fulfils the prime minister’s commitment to explore ways of making the funding of social care sustainable. Several options are likely to be considered, including compulsory social insurance as used in countries such as Germany and Japan; acting on the recommendations of the Dilnot report to introduce a cap on care costs, which was included in the Care Act 2014 but has yet to be implemented; and the development of private insurance and savings products such as a care ISA. The only option explicitly ruled out is the so called death tax, proposed by the last Labour government, under which care costs would be recouped from the value of people’s estates.