UK toys with idea of docking workers’ pay to fund aged care

People in the UK may soon have their pay docked in order to cover the cost of care later in life. Source: Getty

Workers in the United Kingdom may soon have their pay docked in order to cover the cost of aged care later in life.

While UK prime minister Theresa May toyed with the idea before the last election, the country’s former head of the Care Quality Commission Sir David Behan said it is something that needs to be seriously considered.

Speaking exclusively with The Telegraph, Brehan said a compulsory system of social insurance for people of a working age would ensure they build sufficient funds for the future. The money would be taken in addition to national insurance (The UK’s equivalent to Australia’s Medicare payments) and would contribute to a national care fund to pay for care in old age.

The proposal is reportedly one of six options being considered by the UK government’s social care green paper due to be published next month. Brehan said the care system will continue to decline if action isn’t taken and that more people will be denied help without extra funding.

“Government in my view has not been brave enough in making the decision to reform the system,” Brehan told the publication.

It’s a system that is already working in countries such as Japan and Germany, which have both introduced mandatory insurance for workers over the past two decades. In Japan, payments are taken from workers aged 40 and over.

While some have questioned why a voluntary scheme can’t be introduced, rather than mandatory pay docking, Brehan said it was unlikely to be successful. With the number of people in the UK over the age of 85 is set to double within two decades, Brehan claimed the supply of care can’t keep up with demand.

Aged care has also been in headlines across Australia since prime minister Scott Morrison launched the royal commission into the aged care sector in September. He ordered the inquiry after receiving information from a government audit that revealed the Department of Health has closed almost one aged care service a month since the notorious Oakden facility in Adelaide was shut down more than a year ago.

About 1.3 million older Australians use aged care services, costing the government $18.6 billion between 2017-18 alone. That figure is expected to grow by $5 billion to $23.6 billion over the next five years.

Funding of the aged care system also appears to be on the cards in the royal commission, with a number of funding figures already outlined.

“We have worked through the 2017 Legislated Review of Aged Care, and responded in the 2018 Budget with the More Choices for a Longer Life package that encouraged active ageing and provided an extra $1.6 billion for home care,” Morrison said in a statement in September. “We have legislated for new Aged Care Quality Standards, the first upgrade of standards in 20 years, and introduced a Bill to create the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, supported by $106 million to support better facilities, care and standards in aged care.”

Do you think a compulsory docking of pay to fund aged care is needed, or do governments need to come up with other ways to help members of the community?

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