Our reaction to the the Fairer Care Funding report by Andrew Dilnot

4 July 2011

Today the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, chaired by Andrew Dilnot, publishes its final report, Fairer Care Funding.

I was amongst those consulted by the commission.

If implemented, this report will represent a great leap forward in terms of caring for our ageing population in a fairer, more sustainable way.

With people living longer than ever before, uncertainty about how to fund our own social care, or that of family members into later life, places considerable strains on the mental health of all concerned. Already depression and anxiety are growing problems amongst people of retirement age, while it is suspected that concerns about caring for elderly parents has been a significant factor in the dramatic rise in depression amongst women aged 45-54 over the last twenty years.

These new proposals will help assuage some of these concerns, by placing a clear defined limit on how much of this social care we will have to fund ourselves and how much the government will provide, helping us plan for the future with greater certainty and removing some of the burden from the poorest people in society. These proposals also provide the necessary conditions for insurance companies to start providing cover for our social care in later life, further removing some of that worrying uncertainty.

We will be monitoring the response from private insurance providers, as if the resultant premiums are still prohibitively expensive, the government and the commission will need to look at recalibrating the cap on liabilities.

We will also now be looking for clarification from the Department for Work and Pensions regarding the degrees of disability – physical, learning and mental – that will be exempted from any liability at all.

We know that in this perilous financial climate, implementing Mr Dilnot’s proposals will require a brave financial commitment. However, this is a government that has talked loudly about fairness, and there is no doubt that this is the fairest proposal we have yet seen on this subject. We would hope that, in combination with other services, the decrease in mental strain will also help save money in terms of the burden imposed on society by mental illness.