Social care  

SJP fears social care reforms could be 'disaster'

SJP fears social care reforms could be 'disaster'

Advice giant St. James’s Place has little faith in the government's plans for social care, saying it is expecting reforms that are "too complex, not transparent and a disaster".

Speaking to FTAdviser, Tony Mudd, divisional director for tax & technical support and author of SJP’s recent report on social care reform, said he was concerned the government may make a knee jerk reaction on social care with a view to finally get things done.

But that may not be beneficial for the industry, he warned, as the reforms may not work.

Mudd said he was optimistic there will be something published by the end of the year, following several years of delays.

But he added: “What I am less positive and optimistic about is that we'll get something which is workable.

"I am genuinely worried that they will just either do a deal not style sort of process which frankly hasn't worked elsewhere. It could be far too complex, not transparent and will be a disaster. 

“Or they will just do some form of knee jerk reform of additional raising of tax. As much as funding is a huge part of this, it's not the whole solution. So, I'm worried that it will not be what we need.”

Government firstly needs to address the lack of understanding about social care funding, Mudd said, saying an alarming number of people believed it was provided by the state.

Secondly, there must be political consensus if this issue is to be fixed once and for all, he added.

Political difficulty

Mudd said no political party had “the moral high ground” on social care, as all have shown a desire to fix social care but not delivered the results.

“I've been in lots of meetings where politicians of all parties have spoken very passionately about needing to sort [social care] out, but when it actually comes to it they've been unable to,” Mudd explained.

He said examples of this were when Labour put out proposals which were called a “dementia tax” by the Tories and Labour returned the favour when they called the Conservatives' proposals a “death tax”.

Additionally, the people who want the government to contribute towards social care funding are not actually willing to suffer the higher taxes that could come with this, Mudd said.

He added: “[These people] therefore, vote that way and you get into this position where it's very difficult for the politicians to sort it out because it becomes politically very difficult.”

But he stressed it was important for the industry that the government sorts this problem out because things need to start rolling.

Mudd said when a plan is in place, advisers can make long term care a normal part of financial planning, like pension planning and estate planning, and product providers can start developing products specifically for long term care.

At the moment, Mudd said, “it's like trying to develop products on quicksand”.