Many think the government is ignoring social care because of Brexit

Michael Lloyd

March 20, 2019

More than half of over-45s think that later life social care policy is being neglected by the government because of Brexit negotiations, care finance specialist Just Group has found.

A government policy paper on the future of adult social care in England – originally due in 2017 – is still yet to be published and with a further delay announced in the Spring Statement.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, said: “Reform of later life social care is one of the biggest policy issues the country faces and it is clear that most people think progress is being impacted by Brexit.

“It’s a widely held opinion – the number is consistent across both genders and at all age groups from 45 up. It is a view shared not just by two-thirds of those who voted remain, but by four in 10 who voted leave too.”

Alice Watson, head of marketing and communications at Canada Life Home Finance, added: “In the absence of clarity from the government on later life social care policy, the frustration of homeowners waiting for news on what support they can expect is understandable.

“Without any government action to ease the care costs burden on the horizon, people are taking action themselves – and choosing to tap into property wealth to pay for care costs off their own back, in a way that puts them in control.

“At Canada Life, we’ve seen the growth in home finance options being used to cover care costs first hand. For many over 55s, property wealth will be the only asset they can draw on substantial enough to meet the demands they are likely to face.

“As we see increased comfort among homeowners with viewing property wealth holistically, this will likely only further swell demand for equity release.”

Around four in 10 (41%) who voted to Leave the EU in the 2016 referendum and two thirds (66%) who voted to Remain agreed that Brexit is leading to social care policy being overlooked. Less than one in four (23%) of Leave voters and one in 10 (8%) of remain voters disagreed.

While most believe social care is being neglected, Remain voters are far more likely than leave voters to be worried that Brexit will negatively affect the provision and quality of social care in later life.

More than half (52%) of Remain voters in 2016 said they are quite/very worried, compared to 15% of Leave voters.

Among those who were worried, 80% said they thought it would lead to less funding from government, 62% said they thought tightened immigration will reduce staff numbers, 61% said they thought medicines would be more expensive, and 53% worried there could be a shortage of vital supplies.

One thing both Leavers and Remainers seem to share is a widespread scepticism about whether the main political parties would move quickly in future to push forward social care reforms at a time when many believe the current funding framework is already close to collapse.

Lowe said: “There was scepticism, perhaps after so many delays, that any party would grasp the nettle.

“If Labour got into power, only 9% thought it was very likely they would set out a clearly defined policy in the first two years, compared to 34% who thought it not at all likely. For the Liberal Democrats, 3% thought it likely compared to 38% not at all likely.

“For the Conservatives, 6% thought it likely compared to 32% not at all likely.

“As you might expect, Brexit supporters are a lot more optimistic about the longer-term effects of leaving the EU than those who voted to Remain.”

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