Neoliberal think tank the Adam Smith Institute has called for a policy revolution to end the social care crisis.
In a new paper, the think tank argues the UK social care system is broken, unfit for purpose and cannot be fixed by new taxes and spending or making more people eligible for free care.
The think-tank calls for “disruption” to the system and for “new partnerships in new markets that embrace fundamental change”.
“People aren’t looking beyond how to get more money into social care,” argues the report’s co-author Eamonn Butler.
“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.”
Eamonn adds that making social care free as part of the NHS with funding provided by a new care tax was a “non-starter”, warning “this would be the largest nationalisation ever”. The report author argues the move would add another 480,000 beds in around 20,000 nursing and care homes to the NHS and “would overwhelm it completely”.
The report says other options such as individual savings accounts or the Australian system, a mixture of voucher subsidies and refundable bonds, should be explored first before any hasty decisions are made.
It proposes a risk sharing insurance agreement between individuals and government where people, for example, could insure themselves for six years of residential care with the government picking the remainder of the cost.
It adds that public funding and long term care budgets should be prioritised for younger people adults with physical disabilities, mental health or learning problems, whose needs have long been under-resourced.
Peter Carter, former Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This interesting paper provides a way forward on one of the most pressing issues facing society across the UK at this time. Social care is under huge pressure and the existing model of funding is not sustainable. I would recommend this paper as a way forward.”