No need to break any election pledges to fix social care

So, the Government is to pour more and more money into the first aid camp at the bottom of the cliff rather than building a fence at the top.

Yesterday’s announcement on the funding for social care does nothing to enhance the quality of life of older people or reduce the demand for hospital treatment or long-term care. 4/5th of the expenditure of the NHS is on older people, there are 1.8m older people living in poverty, with a correlation between income and demand upon the NHS in all age groups.

When campaigning for the abolition of the “retirement age”, which was responsible for a great deal of depression amongst older people many of whom were forced into retirement and condemned to spending the rest of their lives in poverty, I advocated that people should go on paying National Insurance whilst ever they were working, not to squander on more of the same as the Government now intends, but to increase the basic State Pension to enhance the lives of older people and reduce the demand for long term care.

The Netherlands with the highest pension in Europe spends 60% of its health budget on older people: Britain, with one of the lowest state pensions spends 80%. Increasing the basic state pension in line with many other European Countries, could be self-financing (needing only upfront pump priming) with no need to raise National Insurance or any other tax, by reducing demand for both hospital treatment and long-term care and enabling those who do need long term care to contribute more from their income, whilst still retaining their personal allowance, with no need to take savings or capital into account.

Quite the contrary to this, stopping the free TV licence was effectively a cut in income and now the “triple lock” is under threat so it will not be long before the Government need to throw more money at the problem.  There needs to be radical reform based upon a whole systems review (see this article, the concept of which was first published in an article by me in the Municipal Journal some five years ago.)



* Chris Perry is a former Director of Social Services, South Glamorgan County Council, former Non-Executive Director of Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust, and former Director of Age Concern Hampshire.

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  • Helen Dudden 9th Sep '21 - 10:13pm

    There are many older and disabled people living in unsafe homes.
    With some Housing Associations cutting back on repairs and not keeping up with safety things slip.
    I’m having to pay £20 a month extra for 5 new alarms going into a 1950s small bungalow. It’s to many fire alarms, but they might as well.
    The small shower tray has yellow and black tape to the top edge, it’s a trip hazard. I fell over the raised edge.
    Is out dated home’s better than none.
    I know both The Duchy and John Lewis have more interest in building locally.
    The old fire heart is another trip hazard.
    I personally feel, that it would be a better idea to have some better homes from other housing providers. Guinness were well known to take care of their workers.
    Mobile Homes, Container Homes are becoming the new Prefabs. Winston Churchill knew how to get people housed after the war.

  • Nonconformistradical 9th Sep '21 - 10:58pm

    “Housing Associations cutting back on repairs and not keeping up with safety things slip.”

    ITV News showed a flat in a truly appalling state today – practically pouring with moisture – contaminated moisture – and falling apart. They have a program on 12 Sept 22:15 ‘Surviving Squalor: Britain’s Housing Shame’

  • Helen Dudden 9th Sep '21 - 11:21pm

    I agree with your comments. The push to build new homes in the Bath area, while many of the older properties struggle to keep warm costing a very large carbon footprint.
    Is there to many home’s that some Housing Associations are trying to juggle.
    One disabled person crawling up stairs to the bathroom, has just been awarded £27, 000 by the Ombudsmen. There is many other’s in the same position.
    I must admit I’ve been very upset by how society is going.
    My own comments for sometime have reflected attitude so judgemental of those needing to rent a home. Johnson feels buying is the answer.
    In other countries they rent without this poor attitude to repairs.
    Very recently, I was told I would have to wait two days for a blocked toilet. It wasn’t the toilet blocked, it was the main drain pushing sewage through the outlet pipe from outside. My bathroom flooded. I paid for a private drain company to clean it.

  • National Insurance is just another tax as this article makes clear National Insurance Employee NI should be combined with Income tax as the office of tax simplification has long recommended. We now have four levels of tax on income – Income tax, National Insurance, a graduate tax in the form of Student loan repayments and now a new Health and Social Care levy tax simplification.

  • Laurence Cox 10th Sep '21 - 1:15pm

    Back in 2004, our Party made a “Citizen’s pension”, in effect UBI for pensioners, our Party policy. Not only did our Party not insist on its introduction when in Government between 2010 and 2015, but they allowed a two-level State Pension, whereby people who reach retirement age from 6th April 2016 onwards get a higher full state pension than those who reached retirement age earlier. In theory, those on a lower State pension can claim Pension Credits (introduced by Gordon Brown) but not everyone does and the main result is 1 in 5 pensioners, usually elderly women, living in poverty.

    If we are not prepared to stand up for the weakest in society, what is the point of our Party?

  • Chris Perry provides some welcome fresh thinking around state pensions and the relatively low level of UK pensions in comparison to European counterparts.
    He writes “The NHS and social care are in crisis. Nearly two million older people are living in poverty and more and more older people are having to sell their houses to pay for their care in this the fifth largest economy in the world. Many of these people were forced into retirement and condemned to spending the rest of their lives in poverty.

    However, it cannot be solved by pouring more and more resources into the first aid camp at the bottom of the cliff, rather than building a fence at the top. There needs to be a whole systems approach designed to reduce demand, increase efficiency and effectiveness and find sufficient money to make health and social care (not living costs) free at the point of delivery of service.

    Britain’s state pension is 29% of national average earnings compared with 100.6% in Holland, 94.9% in Portugal, 93.9% in Italy, 91.8% in Austria and 81.8% in Spain. The official definition of poverty is anything less than 60% of the median household income.”

    I recently posted a link to how much the ONS expects various tax hikes to raise tax hikes. This article begins “The Government has warned that the State Pension pot will run out by the 2030s. In a worrying example of just how bad things are, its Actuary’s Department, which looks after National Insurance contributions, has recognised that its finances are in a mess.” I assume this means that state pension payments and other NI benefits will exceed the level of National insurance contributions by 2030.

  • The main premise of this article, that massively Increasing the basic state pension could be self-financing, seems not at all believable. Yes, I can imagine that increasing pensions would save some health and social care costs, but it’s not plausible that it would save anything like the additional amount you’d be spending on the extra pensions.

    Unfortunately, the author backs it up his claim linking to a fuller article which presents completely misleading statistics about relative pension sizes in the UK vs. European countries. I’m not sure where the author gets statistics like Netherlands having allegedly a pension of >100% of average earnings, but a moments thought about the tax rates you’d need to charge to pay for that should show that figure cannot be financially possible. (Consider that, for every 2-3 years an average person spends in work, you’re going to have to pay for 1 year’s pension for that person out of the tax they pay. If they receive 100% of average salary in pension, they’d have to pay 33%-50% of their salary in tax while working just to pay for their pension, even before you account for any other Government expenditure!).

    I don’t have time to fact-check the particular statistics the author quotes, but I’ve looked into the issue of misleading pension stats before, and as a general point: A common issue in these kinds of statistics is that the UK has a flat rate pension which everyone who paid full contributions gets. Many other countries on the other hand pay pensions as a % of each person’s salary. A common fallacy in these kinds of comparisons is therefore to compare the UK’s universal amount with other countries’ highest possible pension amounts – which in fact will only be received by a tiny minority of their pensioners. That of course falsely makes the UK figure look really stingy.

    I don’t want to undermine the point that poverty is an issue which does need solving. But I think we need more realistic solutions than what’s presented here.

  • Simon R,

    on comparative pension stats this article gives a useful guide with links to House of Commons, EU and OECD reports State pension comparatives
    I would have thought 60% of a full-time (40 hours) minimum wage (£213.84) might be a reasonable target (higher than the current full new single-tier state pension of £179.60) supplemented by any pension income from auto-enrolment or other occupational pensions.

  • Chris Perry 15th Sep '21 - 5:01pm

    Simon R
    During my 34 years in local government (20 as a Chief Officer) I put together, and delivered on, many similar packages, and strategies, at a local level. I always leave a bit of slack and if you follow my figures through you will see that I have not taken into account the money already paid towards their long term care by people with occupational pensions. Nor have I costed the huge savings to be made by a reduction in the number of Authorities I propose or from the improved efficiency and effectiveness resulting from the organisational changes. Together these will run into millions if not billions.

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