Sunday, 14 October 2012

Talking About the Money, Old Age, and Hen Parties with a Difference.

Last week I was sent a letter by my bank to let me know that an endowment policy I had taken out many years ago was due to mature on the 1st November. Of course given the current economic situation and despite many years of faithfully paying the premiums, the plan has not performed as well as expected. Nevertheless a decision is required over what to do with the Money.

Amongst the conversations over what the money could be spent on, (new car, cruise holiday, replacement kitchen, deposit to allow one of the children to buy a house and so on) the one thing I hadn’t considered was spending the money on a Social Insurance Policy. Bear with me. You might remember back in July the Dilnot Commission reported on its ideas for funding social care in the UK.

Led by Andrew Dilnot, an economist and Swansea comprehensive school boy done well (he is now Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford), the Dilnot Commission undertook the first review of social care funding in the UK since 1948. He suggested a social insurance scheme – where people could pay premiums to the State so as ensure costs for care and accommodation would be paid for up to a capped limit. He recommended that such care cost should be capped at £35,000 and so-called ‘hotel costs’ – to pay for food and beds in residential homes – would be limited to £7,000-£10,000.

I guess like many people I read the proposals and was genuinely interested in the merits of paying now to reduce cost of care in the future, but possibly lost interest when the Collation Government refused to run with Dinot’s ideas. Well that was until last week when the NHS Confederation published their analysis of the issues in a paper called: Papering over the cracks: the impact of social care funding on the NHS

This paper reminded us of the demographic reality facing the UK. A huge and growing number of people need a large amount of care from both the NHS and social care providers. It is generally accepted that the demand for care will continue to increase, particularly with the growth in the very old and for adults living with multiple and complex conditions. The population of over-65s is projected to grow by 50% over the next 20 years. In 2011 there were over 430,000 people aged 90 and over in England and Wales (compared with 340,000 in 2001 – a 21%). The current figure of 820,000 people who are living with dementia in the UK is expected to increase to 1.7 million by 2050.

The number of emergency admissions among patients aged 75 and over has increased by 18% between 2006/07 (1.231 million) and 2010/11 (1.453 million). Current services are already stretched. Delayed transfers of care already cost the NHS £545,000 per day (approximately £200 million per year). A situation that can only get worse unless significant funding is found to ensure high quality social care is more readily available than at present.

And that’s where we all come in. It is vital we face up to the true cost of providing social care. I think the Dilnot Commission’s proposals are the most practical and credible way of achieving this. So sorry one and all, no new car, or cruise holiday, or deposit for a house, it’s a Social Insurance Policy for me.

But, if you are thinking about other life decisions, and in particular, getting married, there is also some Positive News – last week I was given a copy of a newspaper so named. Brilliant idea, that is to celebrate what’s different and positive about our world. The story that caught my eye – Hens get back to nature. So not a story about my favourite feathered friends, but a story of how some women are trying to move away from the tradition (well last 10 years at least) of hen nights that consist of a debauched weekend where women in devils horns, and slogan daubed T shirts compete to see who can be the most outrageous.

No this was stroy about a return to nature, literally set in some woodlands, but with campfires and champagne. Favourite quote from the story – (talking about sleeping out under canvas) why have 5 star accommodation when you can sleep outside and have billion star accommodation. Mind you, without my having a Social Insurance Policy in place I could be sleeping under the stars in a few years time!