Parliamentary under-secretary for Health, David Mowat, has said that parental responsibility to care for children should apply equally in reverse to elderly parents. It is thought that increased participation in paying for care by families will form part of the longer term funding solution.
Speaking to the Parliamentary select committee on communities and local government Mr Mowat said:-
“One of the things that has struck me is no one ever questions that we look after our children – that is obvious. No one says that is a caring responsibility, it is what we do… I think some of that logic and some of the way we think about that in terms the volume of numbers that we are seeing coming down the track will have to impinge on the way that we think about caring for our parents. Because it is a responsibility in terms of our life cycle which is similar.”
Mr Mowat also spoke of the informal system of care in the UK which comprises 6 million informal carers. He thought it appropriate to acknowledge these informal arrangements in some way, although the details of how this might be arranged was not expanded on further.
Mr Mowat also said to the committee: –
“Over a period of time, the amount of money our society will spend on care will increase. You then get into what the options are and that is a wider question. There have been a lot of reviews. We are unusual in Europe in that we don’t have a social insurance system or long-term savings scheme,”
It is acknowledged that solutions that involve a rethinking of how care is paid for in the UK would take some time to embed; however there is a more immediate need to provide funding to help the sector. It would appear as though the Government is crossing its fingers and hoping this crisis silently goes away. One potential solution not currently on the table would involve setting up an independent commissioner who would assess the true cost of care. One way of doing this would involve looking at the level of care required by the service user; the proposed level and cost of care offered by the provider and the ability of the family of the service user to pay. Each of these factors could contribute to the assessment. This could help avoid the current situation where many local authorities are funding placements below the cost price required to allow care businesses to thrive.