Around 3.8 million people are delaying making financial plans for residential care until the government outlines who they expect to foot the bill, research has revealed.
This number represents 59 per cent of 11,870 people aged between 65 and 74-years-old polled by Just.
The revelation that millions are delaying putting off figuring out how to pay for long-term care comes after back in May prime minister Theresa May was forced to say the Conservative government would set an “absolute limit” on the amount people pay for social care.
Mrs May did a U-turn after her original plans for funding social care, unveiled as part of the Conservative party general election manifesto, were dubbed "a dementia tax".
After three days of mounting political criticism of her social care reforms Mrs May bowed to warnings from Tory candidates that it was hitting the party hard on the doorstep.
An even greater number of individuals polled by Just - 4.2 million people or 64 per cent of the respondents – said that they were confused by recent government announcements on the funding of residential care.
Just Group said that delaying plans because of confusion over government policy is likely to be compromising people’s choices and outcomes.
The government announced this month that it will publish a green paper on care and support for older people by summer 2018.
In her reaction to last week’s Budget (22 November), Former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann said that chancellor Phillip Hammond missed a raft of opportunities, particularly for social care.
She said: “There was an opportunity to help people to set aside some of their pensions for social care, and allow people to take out money tax free if they need to spend it on care. But we didn't get anything like that, there were no savings incentives.”
According to Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just, there is a very real sense that confusion over government policy, which is stopping people being able to plan ahead and make positive choices about their care in later life.
He said: “Delaying plans puts people at greater risk of having to make decisions at a point of crisis, when they are ill-prepared mentally, physically, and financially to get the outcome they want.
"Care is an extremely difficult problem that will require honest and clear public debate to resolve.
"It’s time for policymakers to be bold and create a care policy that destroys the paralysing confusion that surrounds care and replaces it with an environment that encourages planning."
Malcolm Mclean, senior consultant with Barnett Waddingham, wasn't surprised with the research results.
He said: “Faced with an ageing population and a growth in both demand and cost, the government is aware that something needs to be done to prop up a system that is creaking at the seams.
“Over the last two decades they have commissioned numerous reports and studies […]. We are now promised a green paper the content of which is not yet known, and will obviously take some time to evolve into a clear and definite policy to address what is now becoming a major issue for many elderly people and their families.”