Paying for Care

Courtesy of Emlyn Lloyd, Secretary of  ‘NOAPAW’, National Old Age Pensioners Association of Wales.

Presented in response to WAG (no not the Whitechapel Anarchist Group) Welsh Assembly Government proposals on funding future care schemes for the aged in Wales. Relevant this side of the Great Severn Divide (All Tolls Collected on the English Side, (‘Harri Webb’)

Something to talk about when you’re checking that your elderly neigbour is ok during this inclement cold snap.

_________________________________________________________

PAYING FOR CARE IN WALES:

CREATING A FAIR AND SUSTAINABLE SYSTEM

INTRODUCTION

The first thing that strikes you when you read this document and in particular with regard to the conclusions it suggests as the only feasible options, is the mindset of the panel. When viewed through the eyes of the 75+ generations it is only too obvious that this document is the product of the Baby Boomer era.

If we draw a broad brush through this era the picture it reveals is an insatiable consumer society driven by credit. This has resulted in 2007, in household debt as a proportion of disposable income reaching a record 180%. Also a desire to become a property ‘owning society’, coupled with a refusal to build affordable rental housing, has resulted in far too much capital locked up in housing. This placed an intolerable burden on those attempting to enter the housing market. These two factors alone resulted in accessible savings reaching an all time low, whilst at the same time squeezing the margins available for taxation to be used as a tool to provide for long term care. In other words greed and bad governance has dug this hole. It is time for the Baby Boomers to show the kind of moral fiber to dig a way out, without making the elderly the sacrificial goat to appease their self inflicted pain.

NO GAIN WITHOUT PAIN

Before responding to the documents proposals it is salutary to review the development of ‘Care’ in our society. Prior to the Reformation it was considered a religious duty for all Christians to undertake the seven corporeal works of mercy (see Mathews, chpt.5, vv.32-46). These were: – feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, visit the prisoner and bury the dead. After the Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries many of the old values and moral obligations disappeared. It became necessary to regulate the relief of poverty by law. During Elizabeth’s 1st reign a spate of legislations from 1552 onwards entrusted the relief of the poor to the Parishes. They too at the time must have cried, “ We cannot afford this”. With a little tinkering the Poor Laws trundled along until they were confronted with the OLD AGE PENSIONERS ACT, August 1908. Many people apposed to the act thought it spelt the end of Society, but Lloyd George persisted and in his Budget speech of 1909 said “ this is a War Budget. It is for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness. I cannot help hoping and believing that before this generation has passed away, we shall have advanced a great step towards that good time, when poverty, and the wretchedness and human degradation which follows in its camp will be as remote to the people of this country as the wolves which once infested our forests”.

That generation has all but virtually passed away, but I do know that they believed and campaigned for the principle that care for the needy should be a burden shared, through State intervention, by Society as a whole.

Response to the GREEN PAPER ON PAYING FOR CARE

Demographically we are an ageing society with a growing imbalance between those of working age and the retired. Solutions to this could be: –

Work until you drop

Encourage higher birthrates

Increase the numbers of migrant workers. Note at present we are besieged by economic migrants. If climate change really kicks in then the plight of eco-migrants forced to leave their countries because they are no longer habitable is a problem we are yet to confront.

Increase in migrant workers would work, but in the long term it would have a profound, but not necessarily, an adverse affect on our Society.

The Panel considered the following funding options for paying for care.

Option 1, paying for it yourself. The panel did not support this mainly on the grounds that care outcomes could be unpredictable and insurance cover difficult. No Actuarial evidence was give to support this view. We should note that motorcar insurance covers unpredictable events, yet is affordable.

The really worrying aspect of private insurance for Care, would be the use of DNA data to highlight the population predisposed to Cancer, Heart Diseases, Dementia and Osteoporosis. This list is likely to grow, leaving many people having difficulty in obtaining cover.

Surprisingly all panels ignored this aspect, which will impinge on all likely partnerships with the private sector.

Option 2, Taxation. The panel discounted this option on the grounds that the burden fell unfairly on the backs of the working population and taxes would be too high. When State Pensions were first launched, taxes had to be raised from the working population to pay for it. Their decisions here has more to do with Baby Boomers desperately trying to maintain an unsustainable life style.

Option 3, Partnership. The question here is how does one fund the remaining two thirds etc. of ones care costs. The specter of DNA tests precludes insurance.

Option 4. Private Insurance. Surprisingly the Panels did not present examples of how private insurance worked or was costed in countries where it had been adopted, why! When examples like this are ignored one begins to doubt the capabilities of these panels.

Option 5, State –backed System. The panel really lost the plot in discussing this scheme. They ignored the fact that a highly efficient scheme to pay for pensions already exists by way of the National Insurance Scheme. Why could not this be extended to include Care? Also they entered into the mine field of whether people should be able to opt in or out of the State –Backed Insurance, surely they must have been aware that this in/out system undermined the SERPS project. If it is a State-backed Scheme it has to be compulsory, just like taxation and the NI system.

Option 6. Comprehensive. Obviously to those in work this is either a Taxation system or a State-Backed scheme under another name. Its main function is to extract payment for care from those already in retirement Again there is a lack of analysis as to the impact or ability to pay that this would have on people already in retirement. Those who have been in retirement for some time have already seen their savings dwindle and would not have the resources to make a down payment nor fund a government HP scheme. One also wonders whether those newly entering retirement could also pay. The Times, 30th October 2009 noted that 88% people retiring have a Pension Pot of less than £50,000. Currently £50,000 would buy you a joint life annuity of £2788/annum.

So for you Baby Boomers, the party is over. Are there some Monks out there, another Lloyd-George or a Bevan with the courage and foresight to make the changes so that Ageing ad its demand on Care can be adequately met, one would hope so.

Emlyn Lloyd 2009

__________________________________________________

Theres something to think about comrades, pending the great red revolution.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: