England is being outperformed by other developed nations on social care due to a lack of reform of its funding system in the past 25 years, a report has found.
The Incisive Health report An international comparison of long-term care funding and outcomes, commissioned by charity Age UK, found England fared worse when it came to effective social care funding than countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Japan.
The study points out that all of these countries are struggling to create a sustainable social care system fit for a rapidly ageing population, but unlike England, the other nations have implemented "significant reforms" during the past 25 years.
"Over the same period, despite two government consultations, two official commissions, five green or white papers and one Act of Parliament, England’s system of means tested care funding is broadly unchanged," the report stated.
Currently, England has a fixed means test limit for all long-term care services, meaning anyone with savings or assets above £23,250 has to pay all the costs of their long-term care - with tapered means tested support available to those with savings and assets between £23,250 and £14,250.
According to the report, other countries have more progressive systems, either providing a non-means tested basic level of support (Germany), capping the level of co-payment for all (at 10 per cent in Japan), or using a more generous and gradual means test (France).
The study also said England's system has become increasingly less generous.
For example, the capital thresholds (£14,250 to £23,250) haven’t changed in almost a decade, it said.
Had the value of the means test risen in line with inflation, the upper level would be £25,559 today, it added.
"This is effectively a 9 per cent stealth cut over the last ten years," Age UK said.
The charges for care have increased as local authorities have come under growing financial pressure, it stated.
In 2010/11 the average charge was £2016.49 a year, which compares with £2563.90 in 2013/14.
Since 2010, the Personal Expenses Allowance in a care home (i.e. the amount someone can keep out of their income for themselves) has only risen by £2.60 to £24.30 a week, the charity added.
Back in December, the government confirmed a proposed £72,500 cap on social care would be scrapped.
Prime minister Theresa May’s predecessor, David Cameron, had promised to bring in an upper limit on the amount people must pay towards their own care, following recommendations from the Dilnot commission in 2011.
But Mrs May's government said a green paper on long-term reform would be published this summer instead.
Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for Health and Social Care, then said in June the document won’t be published until the autumn.
Matt Hancock is now in charge of delivering this paper, as he has replaced Mr Hunt, who was appointed foreign secretary in June.
Several solutions for the care funding problem are said to be on the table, including the ‘Care Isa’ – a capped savings product, exempt from inheritance tax – and a 'care pension', which mixes drawdown and care insurance.