Five radical policies to fulfil our obligation to our nation’s elderly
I get it. It must be difficult running the country. Brexit and Trump are making life for the Chancellor and Prime Minister rather challenging.
So challenging in fact that the Chancellor was unable to offer any response to the Office of Budgetary Responsibility’s (OBR) forecast that an extra £156bn would need to be found by 2066–67 to fund the gap in healthcare costs. If nothing is done, public sector net debt will surge from 82% of GDP to 234% in 50 years’ time.
In fairness, the Chancellor did say: “We are acutely aware that action will be required to return the public finances to balance”. Although it would have made me calmer if a modicum of urgency were applied. “We are acutely aware that action will be required…immediately”.
Although 2067 may be five decades away, the Government needs to instigate policies now that will give the country a chance of surviving, never mind thriving.
Help to Stay:
The Government provided equity loans of up to 40% to help young people buy their first homes through the Help to Buy Scheme. However, at the same time, councils were forcing elderly people to sell their homes to pay for their care.
I propose a new Help to Stay scheme; whereby Government purchases up to 40% of the equity in an elderly person’s home, provided it is used to pay for care. More money will enter the care system, the Government can retain the asset and they won’t even have to pay for the care.
Let’s Change National Insurance
National Insurance was introduced in 1911 to give workers a safety net. The scheme was a hypothecated tax, meaning that the revenue from the tax was for a specific purpose — protecting workers’ livelihoods.
National Insurance should be raised with the specific purpose of paying for elderly care. I believe there is a public consensus.
The increase would go to councils to pay for elderly care. Preferably, this would go toward raising the minimum threshold before someone must pay for their care. Moreover, we could invest some of this money in supporting people with low to moderate needs today, a segment largely ignored by councils, and this will reduce the bill we have to pay in the next 50 years.
Elderly Care Vouchers:
Childcare vouchers were introduced in 1989 to help working parents save up to £1,000 per year on childcare.
Today, the tables have turned and more adult children are paying for their parents’ care. I propose that we introduce an elderly care voucher whereby individuals sacrifice a portion of their pre-tax salary and receive elderly care vouchers of an equal value.
The economy will benefit as more people are able to stay in work, rather than leaving to become full-time carers for their parents.
Fraternity Nurses for the Elderly:
When my son was born in August last year, we left the hospital and had excellent support from the midwives and healthcare visitors at home, until my wife and I were able to cope alone.
On receipt of the state pension, every person should be assigned a fraternity nurse. It is likely that for most people contact with their fraternity nurse would be limited for a number of years, with an annual health and wellbeing check-in. However, building up a relationship with a fraternity nurse would help to anticipate problems, provide a source of advice and support and significantly reduce incidences of admission to GP surgeries, A&E and Hospitals.
Get into Caring:
By 2025 there will be a deficit of 600,000 carers. We give teachers tax-free bursaries of £25,000 to train as a teacher and educate our children.
We should do the same for carers — a tax-free bursary to be trained in care. For too long, carers have been treated as an unskilled workforce. They are amongst the most dedicated, principled and passionate public servants that I have ever met.
I know these five suggestions aren’t cheap in the short-run, but they will help to eliminate the shortfall by 2067 and help us to begin fulfilling our obligation to tomorrow’s elderly, today.
At SuperCarers, we are playing our part to transform the archaic care system.