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Public not prepared to face up to challenges of paying for social care, ippr/PwC research reveals

fairness, families, finance, older people, public services, social care

Published date:  18 Mar 2010

Few people are prepared to face up to the challenges of paying for a better social care system, according to research published today by ippr and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

Last week a cross-party Parliamentary Health Committee report said social care was too important for pre-election “political point-scoring” and called for consensus between parties so that the necessary tough decisions on social care could be taken. But it is not only politicians who are unable to agree on what future social care provision should cover, or how it should be funded.

Key research findings:

  • The public do not have a clear idea of how the care system works beyond rejecting what is currently available and asking for a fairer and simpler system.
  • Most people have no idea how they will foot the bill when they, or their loved ones, need care and don’t want to face the issue of payment or care needed until they have to.
  • People want payment decisions to be completely separate from decisions on the levels and forms of care.  They believe people should get the care and support they need and this should be provided by society as a whole.

This strengthens our call that an independent panel be established by Government – tasked with engaging the public in a debate to raise awareness about the future of social care.

ippr Co-Director Lisa Harker said:

”This report suggests that the lack of a political consensus on paying for social care is mirrored by a lack of consensus among the public. Our research shows people want to see a better system, but they don’t agree on what it would look like or who should pay. People want fairer, more sustainable and simpler social care system. But a good deal more engagement with the public is needed to come up with a social care model that would command widespread support.”

Amanda Kelly, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said:

“Our research shows that people don’t want to worry about how they fund their care at the point at which they need it. They are clear about the care they want for themselves and their families, but confused by the complexity of the ways of paying for care. We need a public debate which will test the principles of how we deliver a fair, sustainable and simple system.”

Notes to editors

1) The latest research findings are based on a series of deliberative workshops – also known as Citizens’ Juries – with people aged over 65, people currently seeking employment and groups of professionals and social care stakeholders, carried out in 4 locations. The study is a partnership between ippr and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP looking at how future systems of social care should work and how they should be funded.

This work builds on Expectations & Aspirations: Public attitudes towards social care (London: ippr and PWC, 2009), published before the Government’s Green Paper, which highlighted that there could be a ‘ticking timebomb’ around the issue of social care with many families reluctant to care for elderly relatives.

For more information, contact:

Monica Evans, interim press officer, ippr:  020 7470 6112 /

Katherine Howbrook, media relations, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP: 020 7212 2711 /  07515 119 096 /

Read Dalia Ben-Galim's blog piece on this issue at