Old age tax

In May, Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced a consultation paper to prepare for new legislation to fund elderly care. It is suggested that this will require a new form of social care insurance – an old age tax – which is on top of national insurance contributions. He claimed that over the next 20 years there would be a funding gap for social care of £6 billion.  Proposals for private insurance for care and support are also being discussed.

This comes at the same time as a recent British Medical Association survey showed that eight out of ten doctors think that health care services for older people are not good enough, citing a lack of services available in the community (foot services, services for dementia) and concern about inadequate physical and mental stimulation in residential and care homes. In one area in Wiltshire, elderly people have had their bathing support reduced from twice a week to once a week, whilst there is no longer a social worker, a community physiotherapist or a community psychiatric nurse. Increasing demands are being put on carers who are receiving less and less support. This makes it harder for older people to stay in their own homes, yet the same BMA survey found that staffing levels in residential and nursing homes are not adequate. One thing is certain: it is the poor who will feel the double burden of increased taxes and deteriorating care standards. 

Hannah Caller

FRFI 203 June / July 2008