Samantha Downes 

Caring about the long term

Samantha Downes

Samantha Downes

This week the issue that dare not speak its name suddenly made an appearance: long-term care came back onto the agenda thanks to the general election.

But with 8 June fast approaching anything that offers older voters the chance to hang on to their cash is worth including in a manifesto. Both the Conservative and Labour parties are making soundings that people will not be expected to sell their home if they need long term care.

Of course, as always, there will be a cost involved.

The Conservative party has said it will look into cutting the benefits of wealthier pensioners.

How much cash this will actually raise remains unclear; but as an aside it might convince some younger voters that at least one of the political parties is looking beyond the next five years. It is also pushing the idea of products that allow the elderly to pay for long-term care by extracting equity from their homes, which will be recovered at a later date when they die or sell their residence.

Sounds a bit like equity release, doesn’t it?

It’s a scandal in itself that long-term care has remained a political football. There have been commissions and enquiries, all no doubt paid for by us, the taxpayer.

And the only thing to come out of them remains the obvious. This is that more and more older people will need long term care and that somehow this will have to be paid for by someone other than over-stretched taxpayers.

But something has to be done, because while as one of my colleagues points out opposite, there is a growing awareness that unless people are encouraged to put aside for long term care, they are going to keep using it to subsidise the housing market via their children and grandchildren.

Leaving us all with a very huge financial black hole to fill.