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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Should we trust the state to provide?
A team of leading UK doctors has called the provision of care for the elderly "a national disgrace" and a "lottery" that depends on where you live. The Government has said it will review funding for long-term care in the summer.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
With populations in developed countries getting older and living longer, welfare provision is under increasing strain. Governments are encouraging, or forcing, people to take out private pensions and make their own arrangements for old age.
So will the welfare state still be there when the next generation retires? Should we expect the state to provide for us in old age? Will it be able to cope?
We have brought up a generation that expects the state to look after them with no family loyalty, anymore. Yes scrap state pensions and let us go back to being responsible for our own kin.
I can't believe some of the whines
and moans expressed by some
contributors to this debate.
In Britain we are lucky enough to
possess a system of healthcare
which is, in general, both very good
and free. The private nursing homes
for our elderly occasionally throw up
scandals but, for my
parents and all the other old people
that I have encountered, the
levels of health care and other state
assistance has been just fine.
One can only be sure
of two things in life: death and taxes.
I'll bet that governments on all levels could save considerable money by just overhauling their purchasing methods for common materials like paper, pens, car buying/leasing process, what ever you like. Waste goes deeper than having too many secretaries or having two Jags.
Stephen Kenney, USA
Our current ways of supporting society will almost certainly fail, but that does not mean that we should just give up. There is always change, and there were those who believed that the planet would never support all the extra people. We just find different ways of doing things.
We need to find fresh and different ways to care. They may be radical, but they do not have to be callous.
When you trust the government to provide anything you end up paying more and getting less.
My Mother had a massive stroke within 6 weeks of retiring and selling a very large house and a very good family business - that was 13 years ago. There is very little money left now and she now has to rely upon the State to make up the nursing home bills. The vast majority of Homes are poorly run by ill equipped and poorly trained staff who do not have the time to care/nurse as staffing levels and wages are so low. It disgusts me to see the way people like my Mother end up like this, having worked very very hard all their lives and never once had any help from the State. Where has all the National Insurance and tax gone that both my parents worked so hard to pay?
As a 28-year-old cancer sufferer whose six-month pay allowance has ended. I now find myself in serious financial difficulty since the benefits agency will only pay out about a tenth of what I would normally get monthly. Being in the 40% tax bracket - I find it unbelievable that the Government does not look sufficiently after its own.
When are we all going to come to terms with the fact that most of us will be old one day? In our young years we and the government should be providing for our old age in a way that ensures that no pensioner is ever in need.
Oh when will people realise that trusting
in government is a bad thing. That's why
labour governments have been so poor -
they don't see the value in letting people
spend and save as they see fit themselves.
Anyone with a bit of common
sense should see that adding a bit of
private enterprise will give the tax payers
some sort value for money.
The current NI and pensions model assumes the following. You work for 40 years. You retire. You die a few years later. Reality - we now live an extra 15 to 20 years, and have the benefit of modern (expensive!) medicines sustaining our ageing bodies practically indefinitely. Something has to give. Let people be responsible for their own care. As is being encouraged with personal pensions, get people to save into old age healthcare insurance plans. This could easily apply to anybody under 35, and those over that age could contribute smaller amounts, with the state guaranteeing the difference (up to 100%) as people age. If you don't make the savings, then don't expect the state to sustain you through your latter years.
I would like to know how the current generation of people in their fifties, who were "downsized" and now find it impossible to get a job (thanks to ageism) are supposed to provide for their pensions? Fifteen years, from 50 to 65, is a long time to keep yourself, and any savings will certainly have evaporated in that time.
Cradle to grave security was and is a wonderful concept....but the reality is that we are now living beyond the 60 to 70 year life span.
Unless we are prepared to considerably reduce our disposable income by paying more taxes, how on earth can we sustain the current demands on the health system?
This is a problem that is faced by Canada and Britain....Britain is at least acknowledging the problem by allowing Private Health care....Canada is fighting the concept.
Of course we can't trust the
state to provide - we have to
force it to just as we can't
can't trust it on anything else.
Those of us who are earning today
have one of two options - fight
for a decent set of benefits
for all or say I'm alright Jack I've
got my private pension.
Having nursed for many years I dread the treatment I have seen in some elderly residential homes.
Tim G, UK
Oh yes, we can trust the state. That's why I have a private pension for retirement, health insurance for when I'm sick, house insurance in case of theft, life assurance to provide for my family if I die...
Fortunately, I earn enough to be able to have these things. People that don't are going to get an increasingly poor deal as services are cut by successive governments.
There is one simple answer as far as I am concerned. Tax the rich and support the poor.
Demographics will destroy most public retirement and health care systems. There just won't be enough young workers to pay for all that care.
At present the state will provide everything if an old person has savings of £8,000 or less. This means that people who have been thrifty are effectively penalised in old age by having to contribute to care costs.
Those who own their own property are often forced to sell up to cover costs, which may go on for many years. However I think there should be a clear distinction as to who pays what. The state should pay for all nursing care and the individual should only have to meet the cost of shelter.
There is a school of thought that the state should meet everything and people should not be forced to sell their homes. But how can it be acceptable for the elderly requiring full time care to then be able to leave their properties for their children to inherit, when those children take no part in providing long term care.
Henry Case, UK
It makes me really angry to see the people to whom we owe everything treated so poorly.
If your government is anything like ours in Canada, the only thing you can depend on in the insatiable greed for more taxes. Politicians take care of their own first, second and foremost. Ours have set up pensions and severance packages for themselves that can only be termed obscene. A year in wages severance, and 60% of their bloated salaries for pension, that starts as soon as they are thrown out of office. Meanwhile we have seniors on the streets because they can't afford to live.
Glenn Hinks, USA
The answer lies in recognising who is paying the pension for the current OAPs. The current OAPs keep telling us "I paid in for 30 years" but that money was spent giving the OAPs back then a pension.
Now the whole house of cards is about to fall in and it is the current middle aged people who get left holding the can. The younger ones can start building private pensions now but for middle aged and above it is too late.
I believe we can trust the State to provide healthcare and I also believe that the NHS has turned a corner on the long road to recovery. However I do not believe that the State will provide adequate pensions ever again. The population is still ageing and will continue to do so until the baby boomer generation of the 50s has shuffled on, which to my mind means 2025 at the earliest. In the meantime those that can afford it are opting out of the state scheme and are focussing their funds on company and private schemes. I think we should not be surprised to see the state scheme phased out in preference to means tested State benefits.
After paying NI tax all my life I fully expect that there will no service left by the time I retire even though those taxes are supposed to go towards it. I greatly resent paying for services which simply do not function anymore. No matter how well we plan in old age we should be able to expect support in times of need when things go wrong... after a life time of tax payments the government have robbed the elderly if they do not. Either that or scrap the whole thing and stop taxing us for it so we can AFFORD our own pensions.
Dr. S, UK
In the UK I know that the same level of nanny state assistance won't be available when I grow old quite simply because the drain on the national resource would be too big. That's just facing facts. I expect to have to provide for myself but I do object to having to save for myself now whilst still paying to keep those who didn't do it them selves as they grew old. Why should I bear two burdens whilst they have effectively had a free ride?
The only people you can expect the state to provide for are the people in control of it (and their friends) - and they after all are doing no more than the rest of us would in their position, which is taking care of Number One.
If I am not paying my NI to entitle me to sickness, old age and unemployment benefits, what am I paying for? People who work all their lives and pay into the State are entitled to expect a reasonable standard of living and care when they are no longer capable of supporting themselves. The Government even taxes what I put away for my later life and will tax the pension it pays and the pension I've paid into to support myself. We can't 'give give give' without being entitled to expect some benefit - and I don't mean luxury provided by the State, just adequate care and income. My father saved for his retirement then had to spend almost all of it on a private triple bypass operation because he would have died before reaching the top of the NHS waiting list - at 78, he was not considered as much of a priority as younger men.
30 Mar 00 | Health
Care of elderly 'a national disgrace'
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