Older person care is at the top of voters concerns
Care for older people now ranks as one of the biggest issues likely to sway voters at the next election, new polling shows.
One in four adults listed the issue among the top three most important concerns which could determine how to vote, behind only the NHS and the economy.
The polling also laid bare the scale of anxiety about the care crisis, with almost half the population describing themselves as “very” or “extremely” worried about how they, their family and friends will be looked after in old age.
It suggests that social care is a major personal concern for around 19 million people in England.
Only two per cent of those interviewed said they were not concerned about the provision of care in later life.
The survey, carried out by ICM for the charity Age UK, concentrated on the views of adults in England – as distinct from Scotland where free care is available.
It found that one in four voters rank old-age care among their top three policy priorities ahead of defence, the environment or pensions.
That figure rises to 40 per cent among the over-55s.
Only a quarter of those polled thought that England looks after its elderly properly with a majority believing that it does not.
And despite the need to cut public spending, almost eight out of 10 said the Government should invest more public money into paying for care.
Meanwhile three quarters also agreed that the Government should do more to help older people with their basic needs such as getting washed, meals, getting out to see people.
The Coalition is committed in principle to capping the cost of care for older people along the lines set out in a landmark report by the economist Andrew Dilnot last year.
But last month the former care minister Paul Burstow disclosed that the Treasury had been hesitant about putting a plan into action.
Michelle Mitchell, director general of Age UK said:
For too long successive governments have ignored the growing crisis in social care, partly because it was viewed as ‘too difficult’ and there was a perception that they would not be rewarded for reforming the system at the ballot box.
Social care has for years been the Cinderella of political priorities, hidden away and ignored.
Sorting out the care system to ensure that today’s older people and those in future receive the help they need when they need it requires needs long term thinking, not just muddling through to the next election.
These polling results show that for that sizeable group of people this is an issue that they want the government to put high up the agenda.
Social care is not a nice to have extra but a fundamental part of our country’s value system, in which no-one should be left to struggle on alone when they desperately need help.
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