How will the government meet the needs of an ageing population?by Peter Kellner / January 21, 2016 / Leave a comment
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As a public policy challenge, social care is one of the most fraught facing the government. As we live longer, more of us will need it. But how should we pay for it? Should the state raise taxes to help everyone—or keep taxes down and insist that people pay for as much of their own social care as possible?
However, it is no less awkward as a personal prospect for people who have not yet retired, as they contemplate the perils of what to do if they can no longer live independently. YouGov’s latest survey for Prospect finds that our views are informed by a remarkable chasm between two sentiments: the first is that today’s over 70s are generally regarded as comfortably off by their own children; the second is that many of those same children fear that they, themselves, will fall off a financial cliff should they need help in their later years.
This fear may explain why, along with recent horror stories in the press, so few of us fancy the idea of ending up in a care home. Only 1 per cent of us say this is what we want if we can no longer look after ourselves. Put bluntly, many of us are petrified that we could end up both broke and badly treated.
According to the Office for National Statistics, just under 300,000 people over 65 live in a care home. That is 3 per cent of this age group. Our survey’s figures are consistent with this. We polled 1,199 people under 60. Just under half of them have a parent over 70. Four per cent of these have a parent in a care home.
In contrast, fully 82 per cent of these parents live independently in normal housing. Of the rest, the majority live either in sheltered housing or with their children—our respondents. And financially, these over-70s are mostly in good shape. As many as 80 per cent of our respondents say their elderly parents have enough money “to live reasonably comfortably”—a figure that rises to 88 per cent…