Public backs free personal care for older people

6 Sep 18

Three-quarters of adults in England back free personal care for over 65s, and the majority think this should be funded by tax hikes, a survey has found.

Paying more in tax to provide free personal care for adults over 65 was supported by 69% of respondents in a poll conducted by YouGov for the older peoples’ charity Independent Age.

Providing free personal care, which includes things like helping elderly people get in and out of bed, getting dressed and preparing meals, would help solve the social care crisis in England, Independent Age said.

The report produced in coordination with audit firm Grant Thornton and the Social Market Foundation think-tank said free personal care would speed up transfer of care from hospitals and would allow more people to live at home independently for longer.

In its report A Taxing Question: How to pay for free personal care, the charity’s polling found 74% of adults in England support free personal care for everyone who needs it.

From its survey, the charity found that 27% of respondents thought this should be funded through increased income tax, while 25% backed an increase in national insurance.

The sample of 2,000 English working-age adults also showed that 11% supported a new small tax for people aged between 40 and retirement.

Six per cent agreed that, for those who can afford it, paying a lump sum of £30,000 upon retirement is a good way of funding free personal care.

Last week, a study found that the number of care-dependent older people is due to double by 2035 in England.

Alex Khaldi, partner and head of social care insights at Grant Thornton, said: “Time is running out to address the funding question surrounding the future of our struggling social care system, and it is vitally important that taxation is brought into the discussion to ensure we create a funding system that is fair for everyone.”

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, added that people wanted personal care to be free and were “willing to pay a bit more tax to get it”.

The report said funding options like increased business rates or corporation tax, increased council tax or inheritance tax, or charging national insurance on the over-65s, would fall short of addressing the funding gap.

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