Gransnet forums

Site stuff

Should Gransnet weigh in on care costs?

(70 Posts)
LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 10-Apr-15 13:40:23

Following our recent election 2015 survey results on issues and areas that matter to you, we now know that the cost of care is an area of policy that many members feel strongly about, and one that could influence the way some of you vote in the future. You told us that you thought the new Care Act goes some way towards addressing the soaring cost of care and some of the glitches in the system, but many of you (49%) feel it won't go far enough.

(A very brief summary of the Care Act: From April 2016 the Government will limit the amount anyone has to pay for care (received in own home or in a care home) to £72,000. (This figure does not include the cost of bed and board; these costs will be capped to £12,000 a year.) From April 2016 the upper limit of the means test for people entering residential care will rise from £23,250 to £118,500. Anyone with capital and savings worth less than this this will be entitled to some financial support on a sliding scale.)

In the survey, we also asked you what you thought about the King's Fund's 'Barker Review' of long-term planning for health and social care costs: this is what you said...

79% of you agree that 'Instead of the current split between NHS and local authority funding, patients should be entitled to a single multidisciplinary assessment of all their needs'

60% of you agree that 'Critical and substantial social care needs should be met free at the point of use for all patients'

Just 25% of you agreed that the cost of this (estimated at £5bn per year) should be met by'increasing National Insurance contributions for those who continue to work past the pensionable age, and by abolishing universal pensioner benefits (including free prescriptions)', as proposed by the Barker Review

Instead, 62% of you agreed that the cost should be met by 'a ringfenced NHS tax within ordinary income tax'.

We thought these results were really interesting - and it made us wonder whether you would you be interested in Gransnet taking up the issue of long-term social and residential care, particularly for older people. Is it a topic that interests you? Do you have strong views about the new Care Act or about the recommendations in the Barker Review - or do you have your own suggestions about how the system could be changed or the cost met? Do you have your own stories and experiences about the current system? Would you like more information on Gransnet about how things currently work and how they might change?

Please do share your thoughts below.

tammy1351 Fri 10-Apr-15 17:48:24

Yes I believe that gransnet should get involved and lobby for care costs being met by the government.They are quite happy to disburse money to all sorts of orginisations and countries around the globe,so it is about time that they started to give some back to the people who kept Britain going through all the bad times which we have had since the first world war!!!

Galen Fri 10-Apr-15 17:58:24


Eloethan Fri 10-Apr-15 18:14:39

Yes. I think it is unreasonable that the small proportion of people who are unfortunate enough to require residential care should lose so much of their capital.

I think that, firstly, measures should be brought into place to prevent wealthy people from evading/avoiding paying their taxes.

However, given that there will potentially be a much larger number of people requiring residential care, I think that some sort of state insurance scheme might be worth investigating for those who wish to protect their capital.

I also disagree with those who say inheritance tax should be scrapped or substantially reduced (and this is something the Conservatives often talk about). This would create an even greater "hole" in tax receipts and would affect things like care for the elderly infirm. I think the IT threshold is already quite generous and personally I think the policy of allowing unlimited amounts of property and other assets to be placed in a Trust to avoid tax and care home fees is wrong.

durhamjen Fri 10-Apr-15 18:54:37

I agree with everything Eloethan says.
Sort the tax out, and the costs of care will not need to be so high.
I'd like to know where you got your average costs of care home. My mother in law pays £1000 per week, and was self funded until just recently.

Juliette Fri 10-Apr-15 19:02:02

Apart from Attendance allowance and the medium rate of nursing care my auntie had no help with her care home fees.
We were advised soon after she went into care to consolidate her assets into a Trust Fund to cover the fees and this it did, up until the last two years, when the TF wasn't meeting the cost so we had to top it up ourselves.
Auntie was in care for eight years and the total cost was £350,000.
We didn't set up the TF to avoid tax Eloethan just to ensure that she could stay where she was settled.
I think GN would be an excellent forum to investigate the proposals, it will be very interesting to see how the proposals pan out.

Eloethan Fri 10-Apr-15 19:38:02

I wasn't aiming my remarks at people trying to make sensible decisions to fund ongoing care Juliette.

There are plenty of companies on the internet that give advice on how people can avoid paying care home fees and IT through the use of Trusts.

I understand people wanting to pass on money to their children - I do too - and I don't think it's fair that people who unfortunately need residential care should end up losing a huge proportion of their capital.

But I do think it's fair that only a certain amount of inheritance should go tax-free to beneficiaries. The Conservatives have recently talked about increasing the threshold to £500,000 - £1,000,000 per couple, on the basis that, due to the rise in property prices (particularly in the south east), more people will become liable for the tax. A significant amount of wealth in this country is inherited and inheritance tax means that a certain amount of that wealth is ploughed back into the system for the benefit of everybody.

FlicketyB Sat 11-Apr-15 10:17:42

I cannot think of one good reason why older people should not pay for their own care when they have the assets.

The reason we get so exercised about this matter is because older people want to leave their money to their children, which is quite understandable, and their children want to inherit, which I equally understand.

However, moving the cost of care to the state means that people less well off than them, unable to acquire assets to pass to their children, are being asked to subsidise those better off so that their children can receive, what at times, are quite large sums of money.

To me this is a question of morality. I consider it equally immoral for people to manage their money with the specific purpose of avoiding paying care fees. Although here there are rules to stop this. If it can be shown that the reason anyone entered a financial arrangement was with the specific aim of avoiding care fees any LA financial assessment will be made on the basis that the person concerned still has this money.

I hope to leave assets to my children but if they are all consumed paying for the care of DH and I so be it. My DC know and support my views.

Liz46 Sat 11-Apr-15 10:37:49

When my mother had dementia I had to sell her house to pay for her care. The home charged self funding people more to compensate for the lower amount the LA was paying for the others.

It really does need to be made fairer but I don't think I am clever enough to suggest how it should be done. I don't have any faith in politicians either!

So yes Lucy, Gransnet should get involved.

shoreham55 Sat 11-Apr-15 13:31:37

yes. aND ther should be Gransnet action to complement Carers Uk. As a pensioner carer of an approaching middle age severely disabled adult I am expected to do the caring, provide respite etc even though the impact on my health and abolity to provide care is on a downward slope. There are millions like me...costs for residential care must not just focus on post 65s or thise with dementia.

Charleygirl Sat 11-Apr-15 13:39:17

I agree, GN should become involved.

MiniMouse Sat 11-Apr-15 13:57:54

Isn't one of the issues the fact that those who have saved, gone without luxuries (holidays, etc) end up paying for their care, whereas those who have spent their money have their care paid for?

I don't have an answer BTW!

It would be good if GN got involved, but how would it work as GNs will have different views? How would GN get a general consensus?

Charleygirl Sat 11-Apr-15 15:31:03

I agree Mini Mouse I am in the former section, done without holidays etc, but I have spent money on my home to make it user friendly for the ancient and decrepit, me!

durhamjen Sat 11-Apr-15 17:10:34

Does GN need a general concensus?
They can just ask us like they did in the election survey and go on the majority. Hasn't Ageuk done this already?

Ana Sat 11-Apr-15 17:28:40

It does seem rather vague.

Who would Gransnet take the issue up with, once it's been decided what the issue is? And how much weight would GN views carry?

GrannyTwice Sat 11-Apr-15 17:46:07

MiniMouse - there are far more than the two groups you suggest. For starters, there are people who although they worked hard all their lives never earned much and so couldn't cover the cost of their care anyway. There is another group who have large assets and who didnot go without during their lives because they were high earners. There are others with large assets which are the result of inheritance. It's really very complicated and of course it's a real lottery because some people never need care.

Coolgran65 Sat 11-Apr-15 18:54:26

I echo both MiniMouse and Granny Twice.... I am torn.

I do see the reasoning that if we have the assets then we should pay for our own care.
But...... I have been so careful and lived relatively modestly in order to be able to leave a 'bonus' for our 4 offspring. And if indeed, we have inherited from our own parents, the same reasoning applies... certainly in my case, that they had lived modestly to be able to provide me with a little financial cushion.

A complicated issue.

Ana Sat 11-Apr-15 19:12:39

And of course there are implications for future generations. With fewer being able to get on the property ladder now, more may decide it's not worth it anyway if they see their parents having to sell up to pay for care in old age.

How will local authorities cope then?

annsixty Sat 11-Apr-15 19:30:30

My DH and I have not inherited one penny from anyone and never will. We have saved all of our lives and never had expensive holidays but that was our choice and we are happy with it. However now that he has dementia, we face the possibility that he will need care in the future and I face not being able to stay in my home of 40 years. I know that I can stay but the fact is I would not be able to afford it. I obviously have very mixed feelings about current legislation over care fees as we would not have any help until every thing we have saved for has gone. With things as they are today I would end up on benefits,not what we envisaged when we started out.

whitewave Sat 11-Apr-15 19:33:01

What happens to those in care is that the state effectively bankrupts them. We should definitely look at this.

Eloethan Sun 12-Apr-15 00:10:52

FlicketyB I understand where you're coming from, and to some extent I agree. There is no reason why less well off people with no capital should be expected to finance the protection of inheritances for beneficiaries. But it seems unfair that only a small proportion of elderly people go into residential care and because of their misfortune they lose a significant amount of their capital - while other, more fortunate, people's estates remain intact. Most people want to leave money to their children to make their lives easier (especially these days when both buying and renting a home costs a great deal of money), but it is just the "luck of the draw" as to who will end up paying away a large part of their estate.

I believe Gordon Brown suggested some sort of scheme whereby people entered into an agreement that a set figure was either paid upfront or deducted after death which would guarantee that they would be able to access care if it was needed. It would mean that most people would pay money for something from which they did not benefit but it would at least bring peace of mind.

I think it is wrong to assume that older people who have little capital have led indulgent lives of holidays, fast cars and expensive purchases. A lot of people are not very well paid and have found it hard enough just to pay their bills, let alone save. I don't understand why some people tend to see themselves as virtuous while assuming that everybody else is irresponsible and on the scrounge.

annsixty I'm fairly sure not all a person's capital from his/her home can be used to pay for care home fees. It used to be that £23,000 was protected but I think the figure has gone up.

FlicketyB Sun 12-Apr-15 06:52:04

I have never ever assumed that those without money have led indulgent lives. I was a domiciliary benefits advisor for Age Concern (as was) for many years and know only too well, living in a rural area, both how poor many people were throughout their lives and also how a disaster can wipe out a families financial resources.

The fact that the lottery of life means that one person's estate is eaten away by care fees, while their neighbour's is not, is not a good argument for saying those with resources should have help paying care fees. As we go through life, we may experience or know people who by luck or effort benefit from windfalls while other people are knocked back by all kinds of disasters. This is not a good argument for saying that if some asset you acquire increases your net worth you should pay a windfall tax depending on the value of your existing assets, nor that if business failure, catastrophe or illness besets you, you should receive a lump sum from the state to compensate you.

janeainsworth Sun 12-Apr-15 07:51:24

I think one of the problems with this emotive issue is that we perhaps tend to view it from our own perspective, rather than taking an objective position.
I understand where you are coming from Flickety and up to a point I agree, but I do wonder about the divide we make between health care and social care.
I'm assuming that none of us would agree that someone who has high, ongoing healthcare costs and who has appreciable assets, should be forced to pay for their NHS treatment?
So why should they pay for social care costs?

NfkDumpling Sun 12-Apr-15 07:54:41

Yes please Gransnet. Please get involved. If only to emphasise the difficulties - looking after an infirm spouse when you're infirm yourself; accessing funds and home help - which is a minefield of obstructions; finding suitable care when you have no one to help you; knowing what different accommodations are available, etc. Advisers based in the doctors surgeries perhaps? Simplification is desperately needed. For instance - £118,500 for goodness sake. When you're elderly numbers can often muddle easily. Why couldn't it have been £200,000? Just rounding numbers to easy amounts would make a difference.

I think many elderly infirm say they want to be in their own homes, despite being afraid of being alone and vulnerable, because they don't know all the options available and are afraid of losing all their money which they want to conserve to help their offspring.

Eloethan Sun 12-Apr-15 10:25:33

FlicketyB Some people had mentioned about the unfairness of them having saved and gone without while others had spent all their money - my remark wasn't addressed to you.

I think janeainsworth is right. I think most elderly people are very reluctant to go into a care home and do so only as a last resort. They go into residential care because they are no longer able to manage on their own. As far as I know, people who are voluntary patients in psychiatric hospitals or units are not expected to pay for their care, whatever assets they might have.

In Sweden, the high taxes that people pay ensure good quality public services. The British taxation system is a good deal more generous to wealthy people and companies and yet still they make every effort to avoid paying. That is one of the principal issues that I think needs to be addressed. As long as those at the top are paying their fair share, I don't think the British public would object to paying higher taxes themselves to pay for decent services.

On top of that, I think there should also be an exploration of the fairest and most efficient way of funding what is likely to be a growing need for residential care for the elderly. We need to look at the systems of other countries and see which of them are the most fair and effective.

This is a piece of research that the King's Fund did: