Social care is currently means-tested in England
The government is under pressure to back a compulsory fee, dubbed a death tax by the Tories, to pay for social care in England.
The Department of Health has hosted a meeting of charities, council chiefs and care providers in a bid to achieve a consensus on reforming care.
BBC News website readers who have experienced caring for elderly relatives have sent in their views.
A compulsory fee of £20,000 to pay for care is cheap. My mum went into residential care in December 2005 at which point she had to sell her home. When she died in August last year she had paid out nearly £40,000 from her savings in care costs. I think it's scandalous to make people sell their homes. This process distressed my mum immensely and from a personal point of view my sisters and I hated getting rid of her things and clearing her home; between us we stored as much as we could in case she asked for it. We would have quite happily paid £20,000 after mum died.
Joan Massie, Maidenhead
My parents were tenant farmers and saved hard all their lives. My wife and I looked after my father and mother at home until he died four years ago. We continued to look after mother for two more years, with little help (she refused) dealing with dementia, incontinence and difficult demands. That became impossible for us as she began calling out all night long, depriving us of any sleep. She went into residential care 18 months ago and now my parents' life savings - tens of thousands of pounds - have gone. This cannot go on, I find the Tory attitude despicable. In an ageing population - I'm in my 60s - something has to be agreed, and not change every time there's a new government.
Howard Martin, Barrow-in-Furness
We had a charge put on my mother's house to pay for her care, when mainly my sister could no longer care for her. The care home she went to was excellent and she was well looked after. Her friend in the next room paid nothing simply because she had no assets. If charges had been put against income instead of assets that would have been fair. But by the time she passed away she was stripped of her house. The Tories' absence from the talks is another slap in the face of our old people. This is not a new problem, my mother passed away 10 years ago and she was in care for five years previous to her death. Will any action become law? I doubt it - there's an election due soon and it's got more to do with that than any sincerity on the part of political parties' to help the aged.
John Harding, Beetley, Norfolk
My mother-in-law lived in council accommodation. She had to go in a care home because it was not safe to leave her on her own because of her dementia. We subsequently found out that she had wandered the street at night in her nightclothes. Nowadays they would say she would be suitable for care in the community. We did not want her to be in a home but there is no doubt we and she had no choice. She had to contribute to her care costs from her savings and pension. She was in council accommodation, when it existed. It has, or will, all be privatised. Many of these homes are closing because they cannot be run profitably with the current level of government funding for the elderly in homes. So what should we do? In my view to ensure that all is fair we should make contributions all our working lives similar to National Insurance. But it should be put into an independent fund run by a charity, and not by the government.
Brian Reynolds, Lutterworth, Leicestershire
I agree with the conservative policy on this. Under Labour my parents had to sell two properties to pay for the care of my grandmother and one for the care of my great-aunt and are now left with no inheritance. Under Labour the more you put in the less you get out and the less you put in the more you get out. Those two ladies worked hard their entire lives saving to buy a house with the hope of leaving something for their families. But if they had never worked hard and spent all the money they had and lived in a council house living of the state in handouts they would have been given the care for free. This is a disgusting way to treat people and just makes people want to work and save less and beg from the state. I believe that the very needy should be helped but in my opinion it would be a minimal amount of people if the current benefits culture is eradicated.
If any politician agrees with this policy, they should hang their heads in shame! Through successive governments we have been taxed and taxed some more and end up receiving less and less. This government is an example of how not to run a country and its economy. All those golden promises have turned into a bad taste in the mouth. My family is already in this position of caring as my mother is in a nursing home and paying a great deal of money for the privilege. If she sells her bungalow, the money will all go towards her care, leaving nothing. Just how much more of a burden can this government thrust on the shoulders of a normal decent law-abiding person! During the time of stress and anxiety concerning the care of someone you love, and then facing a huge tax bill because they have died is obscene.
James Brock-Mezciems, Brackley, Northamptonshire
My aunt is paying about £2,000 per month for home care to come to her three times a day. I also see her at least once a day, doing all her shopping and anything else she may need. The thought of her estate then having to pay a possible £20,000 death tax to cover those charges for those less able, just does not seem fair. She is by no means wealthy, but it strikes me that this will hit those with small or modest estates the most. I understand the need to fund this cost, but this just seems like another tax on those who have worked hard, building up some financial security, and then hoping to pass on to their family when they pass away, only then to be robbed again in the grave. Is there no escape from the tax man? Well it seems not.
Arthur Osborne, Milton Keynes
My mother died in 1999, having looked after herself until being taken into hospital for an operation from which she never recovered. Because she lived in a council house and had only limited savings, she left just under £10,000. With a compulsory fee of the level suggested, my brother, sister and I would have been left with nothing, and might even have been obliged to make up the shortfall from our own pockets. Would this have been fair? I don't think so.
Brian Rowney, Manchester