Residential care less likely to be considered, survey finds

Harry Quilter-Pinner, IPPR senior research fellow

Almost a third of people are less likely to seek residential care for an elderly relative than before coronavirus, research from Policy Exchange and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has found.

The poll, of 2,475 people across the UK between 15-18 May, also showed 40% of those aged over 65 were less likely to consider residential care for themselves.

The survey showed more than half (52%) of Conservative voters and nearly two-thirds (64%) of Labour supporters back a funding increase for social care – with around two-thirds (64% and 67% respectively) believing it to be underfunded at present.

Most popular options to fund it are ‘general taxation, in the way the NHS is funded’ and ‘a new social care tax’ – combined, these two proposals received over 60% of both Conservative and Labour support.

Meanwhile, at least four-fifths of Conservative (80%) and Labour (85%) voters agreed ensuring care workers were properly paid, more than the minimum wage, should be a priority with any changes to funding.

The IPPR and Policy Exchange, which are from across the political spectrum, said care should be ‘free at the point of use, funded out of general taxation’ as part of a cross-party solution after the Covid-19 crisis.

Richard Sloggett, senior fellow at Policy Exchange (and former special adviser to Matt Hancock), said: ‘We need to fix this urgently to restore the country’s faith in social care. This will not be easy but our polling shows the emergence of a new national consensus on the future for social care. The public wants a system that is largely free at the point of use and properly funded like the NHS out of general taxation.’

Harry Quilter-Pinner, IPPR senior research fellow, said: ‘Covid-19 has been devastating for the social care sector and for many who rely on it. This polling demonstrates that without significant government intervention we risk losing trust in what is a vital public service.

‘But the social care crisis pre-dates the pandemic. Governments have consistently promised to find a long-term funding solution for social care but failed to deliver.

‘Covid-19 has demonstrated that they can no-longer “kick the can down the road”. Fortunately, our polling shows that there is a growing cross-party consensus in favour of social care free at the point of need, funded out of general taxation.’

In March, before the country went into lockdown, Health and Social Care Secretary of State wrote to members of parliament and peers urging them to come forward to help secure cross-party consensus on adult social care.

The findings of the survey come as the government attempts to get a grip on testing of staff and residents within care homes. Earlier this week, the National Care Forum described the testing arrangements as ‘chaotic’.

Yesterday, the government said antibody tests would be available to NHS and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus as part of a new national programme.

Starting next week, the programme follows expansion of the UK’s swab testing capacity, it said.