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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

A third of people less likely to seek residential social care for relatives in wake of Covid-19 crisis, poll finds

IPPR/Policy Exchange polling finds strong cross-party support for a long-term funding deal for social care after the crisis

New polling for Policy Exchange and the Institute for Public Policy Research shows that there is a growing crisis of trust in the current social care system as a result of Covid-19.

Some 31 per cent of those polled said they were less likely to seek residential care for an elderly relative than before coronavirus – with 40 per cent of those aged over 65 less likely to consider it for themselves.

The polling, of a representative sample of more than 2,400 people across the UK, was conducted between May 15-18th. It was supported by the older people’s charity, Independent Age.

The findings come as pressure mounts on the government on PPE and testing in social care. New ONS data has revealed that the number of deaths recorded in care homes in England and Wales this year is more than double the average from previous years. There has been widespread criticism of the lower priority  given to the care sector in the pandemic’s early stages, despite warnings that people depending on it were acutely vulnerable to the disease.

In light of this, Policy Exchange and IPPR, respectively the UK’s leading centre right and progressive think tanks, are jointly calling on both main political parties to come together in the wake of the pandemic, to agree a long-term funding settlement for social care – as promised in the government’s 2019 manifesto.

They argue that the new polling “points the way towards a new political consensus”. Among its findings:

  • More than half (52 per cent) of Conservative voters and nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of Labour voters support a funding increase for social care - with around two-thirds (64 and 67 per cent respectively) believing it to be under-funded at present
  • A majority of both Conservative and Labour voters reject private insurance schemes (only 15 per cent and 10 per cent respectively support it) and selling the home (only 5 per cent and 4 per cent respectively support) to fund social care
  • The most popular options to fund it are “general taxation, in the way the NHS is funded” and “a new social care tax” - combined, these two proposals receive over 60 per cent of both Conservative and Labour support
  • Meanwhile, at least four-fifths of Conservative (80 per cent) and Labour (85 per cent) voters agree that ensuring care workers are properly paid, more than the minimum wage, should be a priority with any new funding.

In a joint article released alongside the new polling, IPPR and Policy Exchange point to the fact that the two think-tanks from across the political spectrum have separately reached the same conclusion about reform of social care.

Both call for the principle that such care should be “free at the point of use, funded out of general taxation” to be the basis of a new cross-party solution to the problem after the Covid-19 crisis. Their call echoes similar recommendations made by the cross-party House of Lords Economic Committee in 2019.

Richard Sloggett, Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange (and former Special Adviser to Matt Hancock), said:

"It is hard to overstate the impact of coronavirus on this country's care homes. The scale of the crisis has also reminded the nation that the care system is badly in need of reform.

“We need to fix this urgently to restore the country's faith in social care. This will not be easy but our polling shows the emergence of a new national consensus on the future for social care. The public wants a system that is largely free at the point of use and properly funded like the NHS out of general taxation."

Harry Quilter-Pinner, IPPR Senior Research Fellow, said:

“Covid-19 has been devastating for the social care sector and for many who rely on it. This polling demonstrates that without significant government intervention we risk losing trust in what is a vital public service.

“But the social care crisis pre-dates the pandemic. Governments have consistently promised to find a long-term funding solution for social care but failed to deliver.

“Covid-19 has demonstrated that they can no-longer ‘kick the can down the road’. Fortunately, our polling shows that there is a growing cross-party consensus in favour of social care free at the point of need, funded out of general taxation.”

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has put unprecedented strain on a care system already in crisis. Calls to our helpline have increased over the past two months, with people concerned about lack of PPE, or receiving less help than they need with tasks like going to the toilet or getting dressed.

“Alongside many others, we are calling for fundamental reform of our care system. This must include valuing the support provided by both professional and family carers more highly. We believe a system providing care, free at the point of use, would encourage more people to seek support when they need it.

“Covid-19 has caused uncertainty and loss for people everywhere. Political parties must act now to ensure the social care system is supported to deliver fair and high-quality care for all who need it.”

ENDS

Harry Quilter-Pinner is IPPR Senior Research Fellow and heads the think tank’s Better Health and Care programme

Richard Sloggett is Senior Fellow and Health and Social Care Lead at Policy Exchange. He is a former Special Adviser to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Both are available for interview

CONTACT

At IPPR:
Robin Harvey, Digital and Media Officer: [email protected]

David Wastell, Head of News and Communications: [email protected]

At Policy Exchange:
Will Heaven, Director of Policy: 
[email protected]

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Details of the joint polling commissioned for Policy Exchange and IPPR is available at: https://www.ippr.org/blog/ippr-policy-exchange-social-care-polling and at: https://policyexchange.org.uk/publications
  2. Polling was conducted by Hanbury between 15th and 18th May 2020, involving a nationally representative sample of 2,475 British adults on behalf of Policy Exchange and IPPR.
  3. IPPR has previously called for personal social care to be provided free at the point of need. Its most recent report on the subject is at: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/social-care-free-at-the-point-of-need. IPPR has also called for a living wage for all care workers and reform to integrate health and social care. Its most recent piece of work is at: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/ethical-care
  4. Policy Exchange has previously called for long-term complex social care to be largely free at the point of use and funded out of general taxation. Our 2019 report, 21st Century Social Care, was backed by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Leader of the House of Commons: https://policyexchange.org.uk/publication/21st-century-social-care/ and the follow-up paper included supporting polling: https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Manifesto-social-care.pdf
     
  5. Policy Exchange is the UK’s leading centre-right think tank. It is an independent, non-partisan educational charity, whose mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas that will deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy. www.policyexchange.org.uk.
  6. IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence. www.ippr.org