‘Woefully out of date’ social care sector cannot be fixed by new taxes – think tank

The “unfair and woefully out of date” social care sector must be radically reformed but not by making it free for all as part of the NHS, a think tank argues.

Most care homes with local authority-funded residents are over 20 years old, while care at home needs “complete redesign using modern technologies”, a report from the Adam Smith Institute found.

And funding rules on means testing “distorts” local authorities’ decision-making, while there are “strong incentives” to keep patients in NHS beds as long as possible as NHS healthcare is free, it said.

Making social care free to everyone as part of the NHS, possibly funded through a care tax, would overwhelm the system, the free market and neoliberal think tank believes.

Instead, it is calling for “disruption” to the system and for “new partnerships in new markets that embrace fundamental change”.

Co-author Eamonn Butler (pictured), director of the Adam Smith Institute, said: “People aren’t looking beyond how to get more money into social care.

“And more funding is seen as a magic bullet that would solve all the problems. But an arbitrary boost to care budgets will do little good.

“We can only solve the crisis in social care by looking at and radically reforming the whole system, not just one part of it.”

The report says huge investment is needed into care homes, but this is unlikely to come from the public purse.

Options could include personal care savings accounts or a mixture of voucher subsidies and refundable bonds.

Those receiving residential care could insure themselves for the first six years, with the Government stepping in if care continues longer than this.

Older, wealthier people could make more of a contribution to public budgets for their generation’s care, while public funding could prioritise younger adults with physical disabilities, mental health and learning problems.

David Davis, MP for Haltemprice and Howden, and former chairman of the Conservative Party, said: “Nationalisation or pseudo nationalisation of the care sector would only compound the mistakes that have led to too many deaths.

“We need creative solutions to deliver large-scale private sector investment into the system that would improve patient outcomes.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Adam Smith Institute.