Retirement Income 

'Care supplement' proposal gains support

'Care supplement' proposal gains support

Insurance companies are backing the idea of a care supplement as proposed by a recent review, Conservative MP Damian Green has said.

As part of the Centre for Policy Studies’ social care funding review, published on April 29, Mr Green suggested that people should be able to purchase a care supplement, which would be similar to an annuity or insurance policy, to ensure individuals have funds for more expensive care if needed in the future.

This money would come from individuals’ existing pension pots, lifetime savings or via equity withdrawal from people’s homes and would act as a top up to government funded state care.

In an Economic Affairs Committee hearing yesterday (May 21), Mr Green told the Lords that he was confident that the insurance industry "would rise to the challenge of making this a reality".

He said that the majority of insurers he had spoken to agreed there was a market for this type of insurance product, although Mr Green admitted that Royal London had disagreed.

One company had told Mr Green that care supplements were "an obvious employer perk" where employers would purchase care supplements as a job inducement, in the same way that some employers offer their employees private healthcare.

The care supplements could either be funded through individuals' working lives, much the same as pensions, or as a lump sum at the time of retirement, Mr Green explained.

He said: "The individuals who are now reaching the age of 60 are the generation who have a huge amount of housing wealth. These people are worried about having to sell their home in order to pay for their care in later life. 

"The care supplement is designed to address these fears by giving individuals the option to give up only a small part of their housing wealth and in return they get peace of mind that they will receive top of the range social care. They will also have the rest of their housing wealth to leave as inheritance, which is an attractive offer to this age group."

The proposed changes to social care funding would only be offered to new entrants were they to come into force, Mr Green told the committee. This is so the new system would be simpler to introduce rather than having to implement the changes into the current system.

But Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, told FTAdviser the insurer thought the private sector had a role to play in providing care insurance.

Sir Steve said: "Our suggestion was that people should be able to take money out of their pension pot to buy care insurance without having to pay tax on it first.

"What Damian Green is suggesting is quite different. He is suggesting that everyone should have a universal entitlement to free social care at a basic level. Insurance would then only be for top-up spending for example, better quality or higher levels of care than the state would provide.