Michael Forsyth, chair of the House of Lords economic committee, has stated that private insurance will not solve the country’s social care crisis.
In an interview with the Guardian, Forsyth said social insurance solutions favoured by many in his own party were quickly dispatched by the committee, after the insurance industry explained they wouldn’t work.
Half the social care budget is spent on people of working age, so insurance schemes would not help them, Forsyth explained, adding that they were just a diversion from the reality that a properly functioning social care system is the expensive duty of the taxpayer, not of markets.
“The people who are looking for some easy way out of this are in search of a holy grail which does not exist,” he argued.
The committee’s report into social care funding calls for a multibillion-pound, taxpayer-funded, NHS-style overhaul of adult social care.
Local authorities will get £8bn in funding to pull adult social care budgets back to pre-austerity 2010 levels. By 2025, a £7bn a year system of free personal care will be introduced to help people with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, going to the toilet and meal preparation. Forsyth said the current system is riddled with unfairness and inequality, and the gap between demand and resources is growing.
“You would have to be blind and totally excluded from society not to be able to read or see that the system is failing. We all know the system is failing,” he said.
Forsyth said Boris Johnson, who has promised to “fix the crisis in social care”, should take note of the committee’s emphasis on funding the social care needs of working-age adults, and the importance of paying for it through taxation.
“Any plan which relies mainly on private insurance will not work, even with a pensions-style auto-enrolment scheme,” he warned.