Brexit blamed for social care policy delay

Brexit blamed for social care policy delay

Most over-45s believe social care policy is being neglected due to Britain's departure from the EU, Just Group research has found.

The paper on long-term reform of the care funding system was initially due to be published last summer, but it has since faced several delays and there is speculation it may not now be published until the spending review is completed, in time for the Budget in the autumn.

Just's research found 51 per cent said policy progress was being held up by Brexit negotiations with the EU.

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Four in 10 of those who thought care was being neglected by the government had voted to leave the EU.

The research also showed a high level of scepticism about future governments' willingness to act quickly on reforming what many believed was a crumbling social care structure.

Stephen Lowe, communications director at Just Group, said: "Reform of later life social care is one of the biggest policy issues the country faces and it is clear that most people think progress is being impacted by Brexit.

"It’s a widely held opinion – the number is consistent across both genders and at all age groups from 45 up. It is a view shared not just by two-thirds of those who voted remain, but by four in 10 who voted leave too."

The green paper was first announced in the 2017 Budget by Chancellor Philip Hammond after the government decided to postpone the implementation of a proposed cap on social care costs of £72,500 to 2020.

In the Spring Statement earlier this month, Mr Hammond hinted at a further delay when he said social care would be considered as part of a comprehensive spending review should the UK and EU reach a deal before leaving at the end of March.

Mr Lowe said: "There was scepticism, perhaps after so many delays, that any party would grasp the nettle.

"If Labour got into power, only 9 per cent thought it was very likely they would set out a clearly defined policy in the first two years, compared to 34 per cent who thought it not at all likely.

"For the Liberal Democrats, 3 per cent thought it likely compared to 38 per cent not at all likely. For the Conservatives, 6 per cent thought it likely compared to 32 per cent not at all likely.

"As you might expect, Brexit supporters are a lot more optimistic about the longer term effects of leaving the EU than those who voted to remain."

Several solutions are said to be on the table, including a ‘Care Isa’ – a capped savings product, exempt from inheritance tax – and a 'care pension', which mixes drawdown and care insurance.

There have also been calls for a 'Social Care Premium’, effectively a new tax on people over the age of 40.

Former prime minister David Cameron promised to implement a cap on the cost of care of £72,500, which was supposed to come into effect in April 2016.