Queen's speech: Social care a 'thorny issue' for government

Sophie King
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Queen's speech: Social care a 'thorny issue' for government

Pensions and long-term savings commentators have expressed their disappointment with the Queen's speech.

Speaking on Tuesday (11 May), HRH Queen Elizabeth addressed the Lords chamber in Westminster, unveiling government plans for the year ahead. She spoke of plans for the NHS, technology and support for the health and wellbeing of the public.

However, for social care, all the Queen seemed to say was: "Proposals on social care reform will be brought forward."

The government needs to gain public and cross-party support for a deal to share costs between the state and individuals, based on their wealth. This needs to be fair across wealth bands and generations."

Aegon pensions director Steven Cameron said: "Social care has proven a particularly thorny issue for successive governments. Throw in getting the UK's finances back on a sounder footing post pandemic and the challenge for the government is even stiffer.

"But one of the key learnings from the pandemic is how vitally important it is to have a high quality, properly funded care system to protect some of our most vulnerable elderly. How that's delivered and how its funded are both essential components of a long-term solution."

In his first speech as prime minister in 2019 Boris Johnson declared he would address the social care issue. According to The Guardian, he stood on the steps of Downing Street and said: "I am announcing now... that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all, and with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve."

Zurich head of market engagement Peter Hamilton said the lack of detail on social care reform was disappointing, but may not be entirely surprising.

Quilter tax and financial planning expert Rachael Griffin said: "The current system of social care funding is widely acknowledged as being unsustainable, yet proposed solutions have been few and far between from successive governments.

"Once again, social care changes have been promised by the government but fundamental reform has been kicked even further down the road."

Hamilton added: "Commitment is needed to introduce measures that will ensure clarity for people around the level of support they can expect to receive from the state, as well as what they will be expected to contribute themselves. 

"And of course, with that comes the need for serious additional funding.  Without this, we will continue to see inconsistency and unfairness as people grapple with a complex system, unable to make any sort of financial provision or plan for their own futures or those of loved ones."

Griffin said that whatever solution is put in place is likely to "be the bare minimum" and people will still have to carefully plan to pay for their own care.

"The government promised in their 2019 manifesto that they will seek cross-party consensus on proposals for long term reform of social care, with the express aim of ensuring that nobody needs to sell their home to pay for the costs," she said. "But Theresa May's tenure in office showed it is a poisoned chalice, and no doubt it is the cost of fundamental reform that has influenced the prime minister to kick the can down the road.

"Whatever solution is eventually in place, people will still need to think carefully about saving for their own care, as whatever is on offer is likely to be the bare minimum. Personal provision for social care will make up the vast majority of how someone pays for the care they need, and it certainly won't be a small amount so people should think carefully about not only saving for retirement but also for social care."

She added: "The government needs to gain public and cross-party support for a deal to share costs between the state and individuals, based on their wealth. This needs to be fair across wealth bands and generations."

First published by our sister title Professional Adviser