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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Employers remain torn on how to tackle social care crisis

UK employers remain divided in their views on how long-term funding for the social care system should be met, a new survey by the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) has found.

Employers unsure who should pay for social care ©Shutterstock
Employers unsure who should pay for social care ©Shutterstock

The research shows that around two-fifths of employers believe tax changes should be made to ensure private pensions meet the costs, yet around the same number of disagree.

A similar amount support the idea that people working past the state pension age should pay national insurance to help meet social care costs, while only slightly less oppose this.

Around one-third believe inheritance tax should be reformed to allow more for social care, and almost half disagree, while the majority are “undecided” on a new compulsory insurance scheme.

“Our findings suggest that employers are as uncertain as the politicians as to how rising social care costs can be funded,” ACA chair, Jenny Condron, said.

“While tax rises have some traction, a constantly rising tax rate to meet this and other funding priorities seems likely to prove increasingly unpopular, particularly if it falls on the working population.”

Despite little consensus around funding, the survey of 349 employers found that 72% believe social care costs borne by individuals should be capped.

Two-thirds think rising costs should be met by generally higher levels of tax or national insurance, with almost half agreeing that these should only be paid by employers.

This comes ahead of a government green paper on social care due later this year, with the ACA arguing that it must look to deliver an “integrated savings policy for later life”.

The association also said the paper must offer genuine incentives for those that can afford to save, and recognise that younger generations have no generous defined benefit pensions to fall back on.

“There are really only three choices: increase government funding through taxation, increase private funding or reduce the quality of care,” IFoA Health & Care Working Party chair, Tom Kenny, said.

“The policy makers need to stop avoiding this difficult issue, and we urgently need to have cross-party agreement about who should pay and simply get on with making the change to our social care system.”

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