Care debate damaged by ‘policy paralysis’, report warns

Stephen Lowe, group communications director, Just Group

Organising care for an ageing family member or friend remains a daunting task, with four in five over 45s agreeing the system to be complex and difficult to navigate.

Research has found this group of people are confused about the sector, resent the costs of care, the quality of it and the unfairness of who gets support and who does not.

Findings from Just Group’s Care Report 2019 also found that over 45s appear to be losing faith that the government will deliver reforms amid a ‘policy paralysis’ widely blamed on Brexit.

The financial services group’s research, which was based on 1,001 adults aged 45 years and older in England and Northern Ireland, revealed a fall in public interest in the care debate and a belief that Brexit negotiations have overwhelmed domestic policy including reform of later life care.

‘For years we found around two-thirds of over 45s expressed interest in the debate but that dropped this year to just over half, while those saying they are not interested has almost trebled to 17%,’ said Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group.

‘Repeated delays to government proposals appear to be corroding interest in the debate and that could well be further weakening interest in planning for care. Last year we called for a “national conversation” about care but without proposals there isn’t much to talk about.’

The survey found that more than half (51%) of over 45s believe reforms are being neglected due to Brexit negotiations.

It also highlighted the struggles many face in finding later life care for family and friends.

Four in five of those who had experience of organising care found the process stressful, with two-thirds saying it was difficult to find the right information, eight in 10 finding it complex, and nine in 10 ‘shocked’ at the cost.

Lowe said: ‘With the political will, we can make some major leaps forward. The new proposals, when they are finally unveiled, must do more than float ideas. They need to reinvigorate the debate and get people talking and planning for a better future.’

The government has said it plans to publish the social care green paper in autumn.