November 21, 2016

UK facing social care crisis, warns former minister

A former UK pensions minister has called for the government to use tax breaks to help people save for care in later life, warning the country risks “sleepwalking into a social care crisis.”

Ros Altmann, who was the government minister responsible for pensions under former prime minister David Cameron, urged finance minister Philip Hammond to include incentives for people to save for care costs in this week’s budget statement.

Altmann’s policy suggestions include tax breaks for savings accounts, and employer-provided “eldercare vouchers”, similar to existing childcare vouchers.

Provision of care for older people in the UK varies by region. The BBC estimates that 1.2 million people with care needs do not receive help, and that four in ten people currently in care homes pay for themselves.

Elena Stancanelli has written about institutional long-term care and government regulation for IZA World of Labor. She notes that demand for care is likely to remain high in developed countries, due to aging populations; and that quality of care may suffer as a result.

Stancanelli discusses policy options to address this problem, including giving the elderly an allowance to spend on institutional or at-home care, and recruiting more young people to become nurses. She writes that: “Monitoring the quality of nursing home services is high on the agenda of OECD governments. Enlisting feedback from family visitors and introducing portable benefits might improve quality at little extra cost.”

Related article:
Institutional long-term care and government regulation by Elena Stancanelli