Azara Blog: Gordon Brown wants to "reform" the social care system

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Date published: 2008/05/12

The BBC says:

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to reform the social care system for England's ageing population.

He says that without a radical shake up, the care system in England alone faces a £6bn shortfall within 20 years.

His speech kicks off a six-month public consultation focused on making care services fairer and affordable.

In Scotland, personal and nursing care is free, whereas Northern Ireland and Wales still have the means-tested system that England has.
Speaking to charities, NHS workers, trade unions and local government leaders, Mr Brown said that the current means-tested system could seem unfair.

He said he understood the anxieties of families who fear having to sell their own homes to pay for long-term care, and of losing assets they would otherwise have passed onto family or friends.

To combat this, he suggested ideas including better collaboration between health and social services, and helping people to save for their old age while protecting their homes and inheritance.

He also said he wanted care to be more responsive to demands for independence and it must be made easier for people to stay in their own homes.

Needless to say, the words "fairer" (to citizens) and "affordable" (for the government) are contradictions. Any citizen will tell you that the only "fair" system is one that perfectly takes care of the individual in question but that other people have to pay for. And "affordable" for the government means that taxes have to be raised, or service standards lowered. Here Brown is trying to square that circle by somehow conning people to save even more for their old age and/or by keeping people in their own homes for longer so that the burden of looking after them falls even more on the family in question.

But it is rather ridiculous that the rest of the UK is forced to subsidise the Scots in this (as in many other things). Needless to say, Brown doesn't want to push that point too much.

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