Individuals and employers should pay a new contribution into a dedicated fund set aside to help pay for the growing demand for adult social care, MPs have concluded.

A joint report out today by the Housing, Communities and Local Government and Health and Social Care Committees calls for the introduction of a ‘Social Care Premium’.

It would be obtained either as an additional element of National Insurance or from the premium being paid into dedicated not-for-profit social insurance fund that people would be confident could only be used for social care.

To "ensure fairness between the generations", the premium should only be paid by those aged over 40 (including those over the age of 65).

The proposed fund would pay for adult recipients of social care "of all ages", not purely older people, a Committee spokesperson confirmed to Learning Disability Today

Public trust

The money would be held in an independent, dedicated and audited fund to help gain public trust and acceptance for the measure.

The report by the cross-party Committees describes the social care system as “under very great and unsustainable strain”.

The report was published today ahead of the Government’s Green Paper, which will outline a strategy we might ultimately come to see. This Green Paper is now expected in the autumn.

The paper highlights an "urgent need to plug a funding gap estimated at up to £2.5 billion in the next financial year", before introducing wider funding reforms at both a local and national level to raise extra revenue, with a long-term aspiration of providing social care free at the point of delivery.

The Committees say that the personal element of social care, such as help with washing, dressing and eating, should eventually be delivered free to everyone who needs it, although accommodation costs should continue to be paid on a means-tested basis.

Recognising that this reform is unlikely to be affordable immediately, the Committees recommended that it should begin by extending free personal care to people deemed to have ‘critical’ needs.

Extra funds will also need to be raised to extend the care to those with moderate needs as well as those with substantial and critical needs and to provide sufficient resources to ensure the stability of the workforce and financial viability of care providers.

“We heard during the inquiry that people would be willing to pay more if there was an absolute guarantee that the extra money would go on social care," said Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee.

"Given the huge funding gulf, the Government should now take the opportunity to build both a political and public consensus around the need for a new Social Care Premium to secure a fair and sustainable system in the long-term.

"The Government must also consider social care in its wider context and ensure a proper joined up approach with other services such as public health and housing.”

The report is based on six principles for funding social care that the Committees recommend should underpin the development of social care policy:

  • Providing high quality care
  • Considering working age adults as well as older people
  • Ensuring fairness on the ‘who and how’ we pay for social care, including between the generations
  • Aspiring over time towards universal access to personal care free at the point of delivery
  • Risk pooling - protecting people from catastrophic costs, and protecting a greater portion of their savings and assets
  • ‘Earmarking’ of contributions to maintain public support.

Response

“We need a sustainably funded and high quality social care system that meets the needs of all who use it; irrespective of age or level of need,” said Richard Kramer, Deputy CEO at national disability charity Sense.

“We are pleased that the report recognises that high quality social care is accessible, personalised, delivered by a well-trained workforce and provides support to unpaid carers.”