Jeff Prestridge  

Government slow on care reforms

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

Too right. Dementia is currently the number one cause of death in the UK and it is expected that one-in-three people born today will experience some form of it in their lifetime.

Most of the ‘cost’ associated with dealing with dementia – care in particular – is currently borne by sufferers and their families. My father died of vascular dementia nearly two years ago, and it was only the utter devotion of my mother that ensured his last years were as comfortable as could be expected.

It left her exhausted and I am not sure she will ever truly recover from the experience.

A whole range of long-term care ‘solutions’ will allegedly be raised in the green paper, ranging from ‘care’ Isas (backed by former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann) through to ‘care’ pensions and maybe a new tax on the over 40s (a so-called social care premium).

What is key is that the paper is published soon and that solutions are agreed and acted upon swiftly.

As things stand, the financial services industry’s response to the long-term care problem has been lukewarm. Pre-funded care plans are no longer available, leaving immediate care annuities as the prime solution to funding care costs.

VitalityLife should also be commended for adapting its serious illness cover so that it can be left in place in later life to defray some of the care expenses resulting from a number of later life degenerative illnesses such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke and general frailty (inability to undertake key essential activities).

Once the serious illness cover has run its course (typically at age 65) it converts to a whole-of-life policy with the sum assured and premiums fixed – or both linked to inflation. The benefit amount available will then be equal to 50 per cent of the remaining cover with an overall cap of £100,000.

Protection specialist Alan Lakey, director of Highclere Financial Services, says the product is “interesting”, although he says it represents no more than a pin prick in terms of providing a solution to meeting long-term care costs.

Fair point. But at least VitalityLife is moving in the right direction – and at a faster pace than the rest of the insurance industry.

As for Ms Dinenage and her merry band, snail pace seems to be the way forward. Publish, Ms Dinenage, and be damned.

Jeff Prestridge is personal finance editor of The Mail on Sunday