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Unprepared and unaware: 28% think social care is free at point of access

Half of English adults have never thought about how they will pay for care when they get older, and only 15% say they are making plans to pay for care they might need in the future, a national public polling by the LGA has revealed.

It found that the “overwhelming majority” of people have not made any plans for how they will pay for adult social care as they age, potentially leaving them unprepared and unable to pay for means tested social care.

The LGA says the findings of the poll have raised concerns about the public’s understanding of the costs associated with adult social care, and has called for the government to lead a national campaign to heighten the profile of adult social care.

Social care is not free at the point of need like the NHS. It is means tested, so people have to contribute to the cost of care depending on the care setting and the person’s assets and savings.

Across the UK, 44% of people in care homes currently pay the full cost of their care themselves, and more than quarter pay the full cost of their homecare, according to the LGA.

But the public poll, carried out by BritainThinks for the LGA, found that 85% of adults had made no plans for how they will pay for adult social care when they get older.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “This polling raises real concerns over how prepared people are for their own care needs, or the care of their loved ones.

“Half of the public polled have little or no understanding of what social care means, whilst only 15% of people are making plans to pay for their care in later life, with those from poorer social backgrounds half as likely to have a plan in place compared to those in wealthier social circumstances.”

The poll found that 48% of adults have little to no understand of what the term ‘social care’ means, and 28% think that social care is free at the point of access.

Hudspeth continued: “With low public awareness of social care and people’s preparedness for how to pay for it, it is more important than ever that the government get on and publish their green paper, start a massive campaign to raise awareness of what social care is, and don’t duck the big issues on funding. We need bold solutions and we need them now.”

The LGA estimates that adult social care services face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025 just to maintain existing care standards, and it was recently reported that councils in England receive 1.8 million new requests for adult social care a year, or 5,000 each day.

The United Kingdom Homecare Association revealed yesterday that local authorities spend on average £2 less than its recommended minimum price for homecare per hour of £18.01.

Top image: Dean Mitchell


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