Two very relevant reports came across my desk this week, firstly the Cost of Silence: a report by Dickinson Dees about the cost of care. They commissioned research from YouGov which found that 57 per cent of those asked thought care costs for the elderly should be paid for by the Government. Despite the implications for their families, 75 per cent admit they have never discussed the issue with their adult children. Among the over-55 age group, 38 per cent think they will be forced to sell their property to pay for care. Just 11 per cent said it was unlikely that they would have to sell up to pay for care. A third of adults under 55 said they were counting on inheriting parents’ property for their retirement. So very little awareness or preparation demonstrated and confusion abounding.
What about advice and Information? The second report was The People who pay for care: Quantitative and qualitative analysis of self-funders in the social care market by the Institute for Public Policy at Oxford Brookes University. It was commissioned on behalf of councils and highlights the growing significance of people paying for their own care and support ('self-funders') and underlined the importance of people getting the right information and advice when it comes to understanding and considering their options. It suggests that people who pay for their own care are not guaranteed greater choice and control unless they are properly advised. It is also clear that many people do not wish to approach councils to get that advice and reconfirms the need for councils to support independent advice services – again then a clear advice gap!
What is more this is just at a time when the very individuals requiring that advice may need it the most as purses are tightened! Squeezed Britain, a study, produced by the Resolution Foundation at the back end of last year, looked at the 11m households who earn between £12,000 and £30,000 a year and who crucially do not rely heavily on means-tested support from the state. Researchers found that families will see their wages fall in real terms on average by almost 4% over the next year as "major cuts overlap with a fragile jobs market".
So now more than ever what is needed are advice sources that can be relied on to help individuals understand the financial plans they need to enact to fund their care. Sources that find solutions that work for them and their families and where appropriate direct them to appropriate financial advice which will help them make clear and informed decisions, in the certainty that they had all the information and choices required to reach those decisions. As an advisory Board member for SOLLA it is particularly pleasing therefore to see the advent of a website such as Payingforcare - for such a site, offering information and guidance on this important issue, is plainly very badly needed.