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Social care reform plans

A scene is a nursing home
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 18 July 2009 at 1204 BST On Radio 4 and Online

Twelve years ago, Tony Blair put ending the system where pensioners had to sell their homes to pay for long-term care high on the agenda.

The government has now published yet another consultation paper on how to do it and wants us all to join in a debate on the options.

It proposes paying a share of the costs for everyone - as it does now - and then says a system of insurance could top up the rest.

The insurance might be voluntary or it could be compulsory and cost up to £20,000 each at 65.

That would cover care costs but living costs such as food and rent in a care home would be dealt with much as they are now.

We discuss the proposals with Care Services Minister Phil Hope; lawyer Caroline Bielanska, chair of Solicitors for Elderly, and Mervyn Kohler of Age Concern and Help The Aged.

Further information:


Comparison websites

The Moneyextra website
The sites are used by millions of consumers eager to find good deals

Millions of people use price comparison websites every month to get quotes or compare deals for financial products.

But there have been growing concerns about transparency and clarity and calls for greater regulation of this rapidly growing business.

An industry body was recently set up with the aim of reassuring consumers and ensuring best practice.

The Comparison Consortium is now urging sites to join its voluntary code of practice and conform to a common complaints procedure.

But how much will it really benefit consumers? We speak to Professor Catherine Waddams from the Centre for Competition Policy at the University of East Anglia and Richard Mason, co-founder of The Comparison Consortium.

Further information:


Child Trust Funds

A coin being put into a Money Box
CTF money can be accessed by children when they reach 18

Child Trust Funds were much heralded by the government when they were introduced seven years ago, with the promise of £250 for every child born on or after 1 September 2002.

They are meant to be a basic sum which parents and relatives than regularly add to.

But some parents and relatives of children with severe disabilities are worried that this form of saving could have a negative impact if their children need certain forms of help from the state when they turn 18.

Bob Howard reports.

Further information:


American Express pensions

A worker replaces the letters of an American Express sign
Amex would not be allowed to stop contributions when rules change in 2012

Staff at the UK office of American Express have been told it will stop making contributions to their pensions for the next 18 months.

The decision is part of a cost-cutting package to help the firm cope with the effects of the recession.

The Amex pension scheme makes no promises to its staff - it just puts in between 3% and 9% of pay for employees who join and make their own contributions.

It is thought to be the first employer with such a scheme to stop making any contributions.

We ask Rash Bhabra, head of Corporate Consulting at Watson Wyatt, if others will follow suit.

Further information:


Forced retirement

A middle aged couple sit on a bench
Currently people can request to continue working beyond 65

A legal challenge to the UK's enforceable retirement age is back at the High Court.

Age Concern & Help the Aged is arguing with the government about the legality of employers forcing workers to retire at the age of 65.

However ministers have announced they are bringing forward a review of the retirement age and have indicated they are likely to legislate to remove enforced retirement.

We speak to Mervyn Kohler of Age Concern and Help The Aged about the latest developments.

Further information:


BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 18 July at 1204 BST.

The programme will be repeated on Sunday, 19 July at 2102 BST.



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17 Jul 09 |  Moneybox


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