Social care system 'needs urgent reform'
Politicians have been urged to change how the the social care system is funded in order to safeguard older people.
In a bid to deal with the high cost of care, the Nuffield Trust has suggested that more public funding will need to be invested in the system.
Its report claims that the costs associated with social care will hit £23 billion in 2025/26 if changes are not put into place. In 2010/11, the figure stood at £14.6 billion.
According to the trust, some of the financial burden could be reduced with the help of the £140 billion sum which is spent on older people in the UK by the state.
However, other options might have to be considered if this fails to deliver results, the organisation warned. For instance, it said that certain universal benefits which are offered to older people could be restricted to less affluent groups. Free TV licences and winter fuel allowance payments are among the benefits which might be reviewed.
Meanwhile, the eligibility requirements for people to access social care could be extended with the assistance of a £1.5 billion NHS under-spend, and the Government could allocate more of its health budget towards social care.
It has also been suggested that a cap of somewhere between £35,000 and £50,000 could be placed on the cost of lifetime care to individuals.
Commenting on the think-tank's report, Anita Charlesworth, chief economist at the Nuffield Trust, stated: "The social care system is looking increasingly unsustainable. There is growing support for the principle of sharing costs between individuals and the state.
"But it is clear that to meet the needs of an ageing population and tackle the perceived unfairness in the current system, both individuals and the Government will need to spend more on social care.
"The Government spends some £140 billion a year on older people through the health, social care and welfare budgets.
"If you were starting with a blank sheet of paper, is this the best balance of spending to ensure quality of life, dignity and respect in older age? For instance, would people support shifting some of the money that goes on health and on benefits for better-off older people to fund a fairer, higher quality social care system?
"Or should older people with wealth be asked to contribute more to the social care budget from higher taxes?"