The current system for funding adult social care in England has been criticised as unfair, complex and financially unsustainable.
There are significant local variations in who is eligible for what kinds of support and a host of complicated local and national rules that apply to the funding of different elements of social care services.
Increases in life expectancy, including among younger adults with physical and learning disabilities, mean that demand for these services is set to increase significantly in the coming decades, calling into doubt whether the current system can meet future need.
In autumn 2007, the government announced its intention to reform the current system, and a Green Paper containing options for a new system for funding adult social care and support will be published in 2009. Teresa Poole sets out how adult social care is currently funded, outlines some of the main criticisms of the current arrangements and describes the types of changes the government might consider for its reform.