In such times of austerity seemingly no policy issue, regardless of whether it defines our society, is ‘off the table’. In an a typically contentious suggestion which makes overwhelming generalisations, Lord Warner, who is currently drafting plans to reform the elderly care system, has said that ‘Baby Boomers’ should fit their own bill for their own care later in life.
Lord Warner’s remarks are based on the assumption that the post-war baby boom generation “has done pretty well for itself” and as a result can well afford its own health care as they get old.
Further accurate research was cited in stating that his own kids regularly remind him that it’s not for them to keep him in the style to which he has ‘become accustomed’.
In effect, the idea is that those who own their own homes should pay for their own health care in their old-age; this flies in the face of all three party manifestos which tried to scrap the notion of people having to sell their homes to fund care.
Conservative Manifesto in ‘An Invitation to Older People’:
“Making sure that no-one is forced to sell their own home to pay their care home fees.”
Currently, anyone with savings and assets worth over the threshold of £23,250 receive no help from the state in paying for their care fees. As soon as the savings/assets total falls below this threshold the state financially assists. A Whitehall document aims to freeze the threshold of savings for the elderly (normally it is adjusted to take into account inflation) thus pushing more people over that specified amount (as the real terms rate has thus been decreased) to have to pay for their own care. This will further force families to sell homes.
I don’t necessarily disagree with everything Lord Warner is stating; just how blasé he is stating it. We do have a deficit and we do have a top-heavy dependent population. Should we set a threshold so that those who have disproportionately benefitted from the baby boom years receive no help from the state whatsoever? If so, then the issue becomes exactly where that threshold is made and what exactly is included in the criteria.
Or should the discussion be more about what defines our society? This author would like to have society be defined by how well we care for the elderly and how we look after the dependent. Ensuring families were not forced to sell their homes as their income will not cover care was rightfully in the manifestos and should stay.
Lord Warner’s words also come at a time when the Health Service Ombudsman reported that the NHS is failing the elderly with 1 in 5 complaints regarding this demographic. Despicable stories of neglect and abuse which strip the most vulnerable of their dignity.
I think stating that the baby-boomers had it easy is incorrect; as ever, there were winners and losers. However, this debate should be made more about how we treat the elderly and thus how we want our society to be defined.
This author fundamentally believes that people should not be forced to sell their own homes to fund their elderly care.