Nearly three out of four people are worried they won’t be able to afford care bills in old age and almost the same amount support a cost cap, according to a new survey.
Concern and confusion over social care costs were laid bare by the opinion poll, carried out shortly after the Conservatives unveiled a controversial funding proposal in the June election.
The party’s plan – dubbed a dementia tax by opponents – would swallow people’s individual assets including homes down to a floor of £100,000. It was later downgraded to a consultation on a cost cap which is expected to happen later this year.
Cost fears: Three out of four people are worried they won’t be able to afford bills for care at home or in residential accommodation
Some 72 per cent of UK adults are anxious they won’t be able to pay for their own future needs, while 68 per cent are worried about affording decent care for their relatives, according to the survey by not-for-profit care home provider Anchor.
Some 47 per cent believe that social care, including dementia care, should always be paid for by the state.
However, 70 per cent said they would support a cost cap, where nobody has to pay anything over a certain limit, as recommended by the Dilnot Commission in an independent study carried out for the Coalition Government in 2011.
Anchor found that only 14 per cent of people are currently saving for care needs in later life, down from 34 per cent when it last carried out its survey in 2015.
However, the question was focused on funds being earmarked for care bills, and not about saving money for retirement in general, some of which could end up being used for care if necessary.
The Anchor research also uncovered confusion about who picks up social care bills at present, and how much it costs.
Some 22 per cent wrongly believe that the state pays entirely for social care in later life, rising to 33 per cent among those aged 16-34.
However, if you need residential care your own assets including property are used to pay for it down to a floor of £23,250. Those with assets between £14,250 and £23,250 are assumed to have an income which must be used to contribute towards care. Any assets below £14,250 aren’t taken into account.
If you need care at home, you will be means tested and how much financial help you get depends on your local authority.
Only 19 per cent of people polled by Anchor correctly said that average social care costs are between £30,000 and 40,000 a year. More than half thought it was less than £30,000 and the rest put the figure above £40,000.
Anchor said independent research carried out last year found the average annual cost of social care was £31,200-£36,008.
The charity care home provider surveyed 2,000 people aged 16 to 87 living across the UK in mid-June.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘We have already provided an additional £2 billion for social care and we are committed to consulting widely on how to improve the social care system and put it on a more secure financial footing for the future.’