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'Death tax' backed by council chiefs

11th February 2010

The government is under increasing pressure to clarify its position over a so-called “death tax” to pay for social care.

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The proposal by Ministers in England to introduce a compulsory fee of up to £20,000 to cover such care has been supported by charities and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), though the Conservatives have criticised the plan.

John Jackson from ADASS said extra funding was needed but he rejected the idea of a voluntary scheme because people would think they did not need it and would not sign up.

“If you have a compulsory scheme, you would ensure there is enough funding to run the service in the future,” he said.

The charity for elderly people, Counsel and Care, warned that with an ageing population the care funding gap would continue to grow unless there was “radical reform and proper funding.”

The Tories have branded the plan a death tax because while it is due on retirement the proposal allows for it to be taken from the estate of a person after death.

Leader David Cameron and Prime Minister Gordon Brown have clashed in the Commons over the plan, which is one option put forward in a green paper by Health Secretary Andy Burnham to replace the means-tested system currently in place.

The plan covers care homes and help in the home and as well as the compulsory fee, included a voluntary insurance scheme and a partnership model where the state provides a basic level of support which can be topped up by individuals.

 

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