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Last Updated: Monday, 7 January 2008, 00:07 GMT
Elderly care funding reform plea
Nursing home
The current system for care funding is confusing, say campaigners
Most people would be happy to contribute to the costs of long-term care for the elderly but want a fairer system, a report suggests.

A consultation of 700 people showed high levels of dissatisfaction with means testing and the "postcode lottery" over social care entitlements.

The King's Fund think tank, which worked on the study, said many felt the current system was not satisfactory.

The number of people needing long-term care is set to rise by 50% by 2026.

Nine in ten respondents to the "Caring Choices" consultation thought everyone should be entitled to some funding from the government.

Inadequate funding means quality is often unacceptably low
Paul Cann, Help the Aged

Most people thought the current system of means testing unfairly penalised people who had made provision for their old age.

One option favoured by respondents was for people to receive a baseline entitlement, regardless of their income and wealth, with the individual also paying a contribution.

Only one in five believed that personal care should be funded totally by the state.

The "Caring Choices" consultation, carried out by a coalition of 15 organisations, also found widespread calls for better support for unpaid carers.


At present only people with assets up to 12,000 have their care paid for by the state.

Many elderly people currently have to sell their homes to pay for their care.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the King's Fund, said: "I hope the forthcoming government consultation will draw on the Caring Choices initiative to help us finally achieve the fair, effective and affordable system that is so necessary."

Julia Unwin, director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which was also involved in the work, said the findings showed people wanted greater clarity about their entitlements.

"At present many older people and carers feel unsupported by a system that too often seems to be working against them, rather than giving them essential support at a time of their life when they are at their most vulnerable."

Paul Cann, director of policy for Help the Aged, said the current system could not be relied on.

"Inadequate funding means quality is often unacceptably low.

"This issue must be brought into the open and treated with the severity it deserves."

Age Concern England's director general, Gordon Lishman, added that the treatment of older people by the care service was a "national disgrace".

"Most people don't expect the government to pay for everything but they do expect it to make a fairer contribution.

"Older people and their families urgently need a reformed care system that provides good quality support when and where it is required."

Social care minister Ivan Lewis said the needs of older people and their carers was a "top priority" and the government would be launching a consultation this year as well as a series of initiatives including a New Deal for Carers to be announced in the Spring.

The Alzheimer's Society agreed that people are willing to make a financial contribution toward the cost of care but currently feel they are being "ransacked" to prop up a failing system.

You and Yours is launching a month long series on Care in the UK, starting today on BBC Radio 4 at 12.04 GMT.

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