Are the coalition’s plans to allow the elderly to defer care costs until death the right step?

YES
Les Mayhew

These proposals represent a practical and measured approach to the problem of reforming social care in England. We are pleased that no decision is being made on the lifetime care cost cap (which would put a cap on the amount people would pay for care during their lifetime). We propose a different system of graduated support for people in different wealth bands. This would be simpler to implement and fairer to families, individuals and taxpayers. And we welcome provision of support to unpaid carers, without whom the social care system would collapse. State support is still required for the poor and vulnerable, but everyone should be incentivised to make provision for their future care. We hope that the government will consider our proposals for long-term care bonds to help the poorest, flexible pension annuities that take account of personal social care requirements, and a bigger role for equity release.

Les Mayhew is professor of statistics at Cass Business School.

NO
Julia Unwin

While we welcome the publication of the long-awaited social care white paper, we are deeply frustrated that more progress has not been made, and that the decision on how to pay for long-term care has been postponed yet again. The secretary of state, Andrew Lansley, says this is a watershed moment. It is not. Extending current practice on deferred payments is sensible, but it is also a sticking plaster. Andrew Dilnot’s Commission gave us all hope for a new fair settlement and achieved wide-spread support – it is hugely disappointing his recommendations are not being acted upon now. Successive governments have failed to act. Without a sense of urgency, more of us face insecurity and uncertainty as we age. The failure to address social care properly will only mean more pressure on the NHS, thereby destroying all hopes of a sustainable and functioning health system in the future.

Julia Unwin is chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.