Should wealthy pensioners pay national insurance to fund social care?

New ways to help fund social care services such as introducing means-tested National Insurance contributions for wealthy pensioners should be explored, according to Lib Dems.

West Sussex County Council has increased its share of council tax by 3.95 per cent in the last two years, both times including a two per cent adult social care levy.

But while more money is being spent each year on adult social care, cost pressures are set to increase by £49.7m over the next four years in West Sussex, reflecting demographic pressures and the National Living Wage policy.

A motion, put forward by the Lib Dems and amended by the Tories, called on the council’s leadership to continue pressing the Government to deliver a sustainable way of funding social care.

James Walsh (LDem, Littlehampton East), leader of the Lib Dem group at County Hall, suggested in the upcoming green paper alternative ways of raising revenue for social care could be explored, such as continuing to charge National Insurance past retirement age, but on a means-tested basis.

He said: “It [social care] should be paid for and there’s plenty of money it’s just in the wrong place.

“We need to make sure it gets to the right place in the NHS and social care and that may mean increasing taxation for some on the wealthier end of the spectrum.”

Pat Arculus (Con, Pulborough), who proposed the amendments to Dr Walsh’s original motion last Friday (December 15), described how residents living longer was not an issue that was going away.

In particular she raised the issue of elderly residents who were on the borderline, but were still expected to pay for their own care and are ‘really struggling’.

She added: “I do not know what the answer is but we want the Government to look at it long term.”

Conservative manifesto pledges to reform social care funding were labelled a ‘dementia tax’ and prompted huge opposition in the run up to the general election earlier this year.

But nationally the social care funding gap is expected to reach £2.5billion by 2019/20, according to a briefing note put together by county council officers.

The note outlined how it was intended that the Care Act 2014 would introduce funding reforms to address the risk of ‘catastrophic care costs’ for individuals, but the implementation of these elements was delayed until 2020.

The upcoming green paper, which is due to be published next summer, will look at care and support for the elderly.

The motion called on leader Louise Goldsmith and Amanda Jupp, cabinet member for adults and health, to urge ministers to use the green paper to deliver sustainable and deliverable solutions for the funding of long-term care for the elderly.

Mrs Jupp (Con, Billingshurst) explained how through the Local Government Association and the County Councils Network they were calling for adult social care to be appropriately funded and reformed.

She described how she felt strongly about people planning for their future care as she worked for two decades for a national charity advising and supporting the elderly.

Morwen Millson (LDem, Horsham Riverside) said: “I think it’s absolutely essential not just this council but every council in the land sends a similar message to the Government that something has to be done and done urgently.”

In the meantime Bryan Turner (Con, Broadwater), chairman of the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee, argued they were making a difference in a number of areas, through care and business support services.

Meanwhile HASC is due to receive a piece of work looking at the state of the care sector in January.

The amended motion was passed by 55 votes to zero.