Experts Call For Government And Public To Act So Elderly Are Protected In Later Life
A social care plan from the Government and personal later life planning is needed to counteract falling birth rates, experts have warned.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published its provisional figures on fertility rates for the UK, putting the average number of children being born in the third quarter of 2020 at 1.6 – the lowest figure since records began in 1938.
The stats, if reflecting a long-term trend, suggest the UK will have an increasingly elderly population to support. An article in The Times on the matter said currently there are roughly seven working people for everyone over the state pension age – but if that ratio falls, the elderly risk not getting the support they need.
Leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell’s report with Cebr from February 2020 found that without Government intervention, the UK will reach a shortage of beds in residential homes by 2029.
The report also looked into the stats around the UK’s ageing population, finding the projected number of people over 65 will rise from 12.6m in 2020 to 15.4m in 2030 - accounting for 22% of the UK population.
Experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell say there’s a mixed response needed: a robust Government social care plan and later life planning from the working population.
Expert Opinion“As it stands, we don’t have a social care plan in place as a nation. An ageing population means more people will need care quicker – and a shifting age demographic in the UK just accelerates the problem.
“For many years now we and other organisations have asked the Government to prioritise a social care plan to counteract rising care home costs that force families to go to extremes like selling the family home to pay for care. These latest figures from the ONS only go to show the need is extremely urgent.
“The sooner the public understands the Government provisions are basically non-existent for the shifting population demographic we’re seeing take place, the better. Planning for later life care should be up on the scale alongside saving into a pension and writing a will.” Kelly Greig - Partner
Irwin Mitchell’s Cebr report discusses several ways to save for later life care, including ISAs and increasing pension contributions, but the Government could also look at later life care-specific saving accounts and insurance policies.
Another option to consider is higher taxes: Irwin Mitchell’s November 2020 survey with YouGov, which polled over 40s on their attitudes towards saving for later life care during coronavirus, found one in four (24 per cent) would favour higher taxes to subsidise later life care in the future. Introducing Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on main residences has also been discussed in the past.
Kelly continued: “Our own research has found one in four backed higher taxes, but there’s the risk that this taxed money would just end up in a general pot instead of ring-fenced for later life care.
“The Government could introduce a wealth tax to pay for social care – the number being touted at the moment is taxing those who earn £40,000 and above – but it’s sure not to be popular at a time where taxes are expected to increase after the devastation the pandemic has wreaked on the economy, which will take years to fix.
“Either way, tough decisions will need to be made to support our elderly population. It might not be the easiest or simplest solution to come up with, but who pays for later life care and how needs to be sorted – fast."