In a radical solution expected to ease the burden of an ageing population on the floundering social care system, people over 40 may pay more tax to cover the cost of care in later life.
Care Sector in Crisis
The growing movement to resolve the crisis in adult social care has already suffered some setbacks over the past year. The financial woes of care homes, an increase in the number of private facilities that cater to only high-paying clients, shortage of skilled carers, and restrictive immigration regulations for low-paid care workers from the EU are just some of the problems that this sector has been plagued with in the recent past.
Most of the measures proposed to combat this burgeoning crisis are yet to see fruition.
The Queen's Speech in December promised an additional £1 billion for councils in every year of the current parliament. The government also pledged to consult on a 2% precept that would grant councils access to a further £ 500 million for adult social care. The care sector has proposed several solutions as well, ranging from the introduction of a Care ISA and Care pension. However, none of these has resulted in any concrete outcomes.
A Proposed Solution
A new system proposed by the government would see people over 40 pay higher taxes, either via payroll or an insurance model. This would help to pay for the care that older people may need in later life.
The plans to introduce such a system are currently under exploration by Boris Johnson's new health and social care task force and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The DHSC is looking at similar systems that have been successfully implemented in Germany and Japan to finance social care.
In Japan, everyone makes social care contributions once they hit the age of 40. Similarly, in Germany, from the time adults begin working, they contribute 1.5% of their salary. Employers match their contribution or deduct it from their pension funds, towards the cost of care in later life.
While the exact mechanism by which the over-40 population would pay this tax is yet to be determined, experts are considering a payroll tax or compulsory insurance model.
Plan Likely to Cause Mixed Reactions
On the one hand, government officials like Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Conservative MP Damian Green have both advocated the plan, seeing it as a viable solution to social care funding.
However, some differ, questioning why the burden of paying for social care should fall only on above-40s who may already be dealing with mortgage payments and the costs of bringing up children.
As the country awaits the next steps, it is certain strong action needs to be taken to ensure that the UK resolves the crisis at the earliest opportunity, ensuring high-quality care for older generations.