See the Care Corner on Good Care Guide for new blogs about care by Stephen Burke and Denise Burke.
See Childcare Champions for new blogs on childcare.
Pioneering designs for new homes that promote multi-generational living are proposed in a new report by Michael Keith from Northumbria University, published by United for All Ages.
Britain is witnessing a growth in multi-generational households with three or more generations of a family living under the same roof. But our current housing stock does not support this trend which is driven by many socio-economic factors.
In the Cross-Generational Housing report, Michael Keith critiques existing housing and some new developments which fail to meet the needs of different generations, in particular older people.
Michael Keith proposes a new ‘universal design’ concept for flexible living for three generations – promoting both independence and shared spaces.
The design tackles layout of the home, personal space and ownership, individual needs and accessibility, as well as being environmentally sustainable. His proposal looks to house three generations, taking the form of a family home with a separate, self-contained apartment for an elder generation. The two are connected structurally, however the apartment can be closed off (if desired) from the main house by a moveable 'wall'. This could allow for other opportunities such as an independent apartment for maturing children or an alternative source of income. He also aims to keep the spaces within both properties free of any internal structural walls, thus allowing rooms to be configured and re-configured over time.
Michael Keith said: “There are many economic reasons why cross-generational housing should be considered more seriously. But all of that aside, I think it’s mad that more often than not our elderly parents sit in their empty 3+ bedroom houses alone. Cross generational-housing doesn’t have to be about families living on top of each other and getting in one another’s way. Just the proximity of having each other close is often enough to ease the minds of both parties, not to mention the benefits that both parties can provide for each other. We should cherish the little time that we have on this planet and aim to make a real difference to each other’s lifestyle by taking care of those who we love most.”
More families are sharing their home across three generations. The trend is being driven by falling incomes, the cost of housing and the need for care amongst other things. We need architects and builders to catch up and offer families the kind of homes they want to share. Michael Keith has laid down the challenge which is part of the solution to Britain’s housing crisis. 25 March 2013
The government has announced a tax break of up to £1200 on childcare spending of £6000 pa per child under five from autumn 2015.
The proposal would particularly benefit wealthier families and leave some families worse off. Given the childcare crisis now facing families, the proposal is ‘too little, too late’.
The proposal raises many questions:
- Much of the funding would be recycled from the current tax exemption on childcare vouchers which currently provides up to £933 per working parent (ie up to £1866 for a family where both parents work)
- Only those families able to spend £6000 pa per child on childcare up front will realise the full tax benefits ie those on higher incomes
- It won’t tackle the growing crisis in childcare – with the number of childcare places falling, providers closing and costs rising for low and middle income parents who need help now
- It also raises questions about how the tax break will be administered by HMRC, voucher companies and childcare providers promising an administrative ’dog’s dinner’; also it won’t start until late 2015 and not until 2020 for older children
This proposal will only benefit a limited number of mainly wealthier parents and some will be left worse off. Many more families are facing the childcare crisis of rising costs and falling places. There is a real danger that the proposed tax break will push up costs further and create a two-tier childcare system. It’s too little, too late.
This is short-sighted. Access to childcare helps give children a good start in life and enables parents to stay in work. Research shows that parents who can return to work after having children have much better career and income prospects for the rest of their life. Better childcare is crucial to Britain’s future economic and social success.
The government needs a new national childcare strategy to make quality childcare more affordable and sustainable. This must include proper funding for free childcare places for two, three and four year olds. And the government must simplify the complex funding of childcare to make better use of the funding and to target help to low and middle income parents. A new online childcare account would help achieve this. 19 March 2013
So Britain is 'woefully underprepared' for our ageing society, according to a House of Lords committee.
They demand action now by government. But they could have made similar calls over the last few decades, and still not enough has been done to plan for our ageing population.
Will this latest report lead to radical action?
1) we need to engage all ages in raising awareness and in coming up with solutions - this is not just a challenge for older people but for us all
2) we need to help people to help themselves across the life course - planning ahead, and remaining fit, healthy and involved with friends and family
3) we need to be smarter about how we spend public resources - out of expensive hospital and residential care and in the community, in homes and in prevention
So the peers are right to warn us. Now we need radical action by and for all ages with government taking a lead. In the coming months United for All Ages will be promoting some new solutions. 14 March 2013
Today United for All Ages launches a new website: Childcare Champions, standing up for quality affordable childcare for all families.
firstly, we are very concerned about where childcare policy in this country is heading. The Government's More Great Childcare plans threaten to undermine progress made on quality, while failing to tackle the big concerns of families about affordability.
secondly, affordable quality childcare is central to economic and social progress for our country and for all parents and children. We need a new vision for making it happen - not more piecemeal announcements that don't address the real issues.
thirdly, it's time to inject some energy, passion and experience into public debate about childcare. We can't afford for childcare to go into reverse in this country and we must ensure that the voices of families are heard loud and clear.
Access to childcare has lifelong effects for parents and children. A long time out of work while having children affects women's earnings in later life. And the lifelong social and economic benefits of quality childcare for children are well documented.
Childcare Champions has no vested interests, no contracts with government and no reasons to hold back in public statements. We shall speak truth to power. 26 February 2013
Older people and their families face a double blow as the Government finally announced its response to the Dilnot commission. The proposed changes will make the care system more complicated and unsustainable, says United for All Ages.
The Government is making the care funding system even more complicated:
- There will be two caps – one on care costs and one on board and lodging
- Care costs will only be eligible if you have high needs and only at the standard rate
- The capital threshold will rise to £123k but will be tapered below that figure
- Families will still have to make ‘top up’ payments above the standard rate
- Payment of care costs could be made in several different ways
No new money is being injected into the underfunded care system. £1bn is substituting private spending on care with public spending. Local authorities continue to cut care budgets. With almost one million older people missing out on care already and with demand for care growing for our ageing population, the care system desperately needs extra funding. By 2017 many more older people will need care and support – but no more funding has been made available.
Stephen Burke, Director of United for All Ages and the Good Care Guide, said: “How do you make a complex care system even more confusing? Add a cap; then say the cap won't cover all care costs; then taper the means testing; then add another cap which will increase annual bills for care home residents; then add various ways to pay for your caps; the choice is yours but you will also need to find more money on top. It’s not surprising that Dilnot also prescribed better advice and information for older people and their families.
“These proposals aren’t built to last. The current care system is on its last legs. This new system with no extra funding will face substantially higher demands for care by 2017 as our population ages. Few people will benefit as the Government shifts the costs of care further and further onto older people and their families. The next government will have to pick up the pieces after the 2015 election.
“By developing a new funding stream for crisis care, the proposals do not promote either integration between care and health or prevention - both of which are critical to making better use of scarce resources and to delivering better care in or closer to older people's homes.
“No wonder people are saying that ‘the minister’s new caps’ feels like a con.” 11 February 2013
A £75k cap on care costs will still mean that many older people and their families will have to sell their home to pay care home bills – whether it’s in their lifetime or after the older person has died.
Because the cap would only cover care costs, it would mean older people having to live in and pay for a care home for at least five years before they get any financial support. Together with the ‘hotel’ costs of residential care, their bills could easily exceed £200k, so they would still have to sell their home.
Older people owning a home are very likely to be above the proposed threshold of £123k and therefore subject to the £75k cap.
With our ageing population and the growing number of people with dementia, hundreds of thousands more older people will need care by 2017. Already in 2013, almost a million older people can’t get the care they need and are forced to rely on family carers, pay for their own care or struggle on their own.
Older people and their families need to look at these proposals very closely. They will find that very few people will benefit – some wealthy families and some poorer older people. Most ordinary families will still face losing their home to pay for care.
With our ageing population and growing care needs, these proposals are very timid and just a drop in the ocean. They won’t stand the test of time. The care system is already massively underfunded and by 2017 the care gap will be even larger. These proposals don’t inject extra funding into the care system – they just substitute some private spending with public spending. We need urgent and radical action to meet the care needs of our ageing population. 10 February 2013
Media reports suggest that an extra 100,000 older people will get help with care funding in 2017 as a result of the £75k cap on care costs and the raising of the capital threshold to £123,000.
Yet this begs many questions:
1) How does the 100,000 figure compare with:
a) The number of self-funders who currently pay for all or some of their care
b) The number of extra older people who will need care by 2017 because of our ageing population
c) The number of older people predicted to have dementia in 2017 compared to 2010-11
2) Of the two measures, how many of the 100,000 will benefit from:
a) The £75k cap on care costs
b) The raising of the capital threshold
3) How much do the two measures each cost to implement?
4) Of those benefiting from the raising of the capital threshold, how many will:
a) Have all their care costs paid
b) Have part of their care costs paid because of the taper
5) Why can’t the government introduce a raising of the capital threshold with immediate effect?
6) How many families will have to sell the home of an older person after they have died (as opposed to in their lifetime) to pay care home bills?
7) What will house prices and other savings/income of older people be worth in 2017 compared to 2010-11?
Before the government has even made its formal announcement about care funding, there are many questions that need to be answered. With our ageing population many more older people will need care in 2017 and beyond, so how sustainable will these measures be?
The current care system is woefully underfunded. Older people and their families need more help now with care costs and we need care funding for the future that is fairer, simpler and sustainable. The many questions to be answered already suggest that the government’s plans are fundamentally flawed. 10 February 2013
The Government’s long-awaited decision (reported in the media today) on the cap on care costs will leave older people and their families sorely disappointed and won’t resolve the massive underfunding of care.
The £75k cap on care costs would mean that older people will have to live in and pay for a care home for at least five years before they get any financial support. Together with the ‘hotel’ costs of residential care, their bills could easily exceed £200k, so they would still have to sell their home.
The extra funding to introduce the cap would not inject more cash into the care system – it would simply substitute private spending with public spending. With almost one million older people missing out on care and with demand for care growing for our ageing population, the care system desperately needs extra funding. Instead the government has cynically chosen a £75k cap that will help a few wealthier people.
The ‘cap’ is also misleading. It would only cover standard local authority rates not the actual cost of most care, and would only cover the costs of care for people with substantial or greater care needs. There is also no evidence that the £75k cap would create a new range of insurance products to pay for care.
When families realise what is being proposed, they will be in for a rude shock. The Government is sneakily shifting the cost of care further and further onto older people and their families. The £75k cap is the dampest of damp squibs. It is a con of the worst sorts.
There are fairer and better alternatives. The Government for example could have raised the capital threshold for paying for care to £200k or higher. The failure by this Government to meet the care challenge means that the next government will have to sort this out to meet the care needs of our ageing population.
Older people and their families want action now to fund care properly, not a distant promise of very little help. 9 February 2013
Tomorrow (29 January) Education Minister Liz Truss is making a well-trailed announcement on the government's plans for childcare.
How will Liz Truss square the circle of improving the quality of childcare, paying staff more and making childcare more affordable to parents?
Her announcement will simply rearrange the deckchairs. Deregulating nurseries and childminders so they can look after more children will undermine quality and won’t make childcare more affordable. Evidence from other countries like France and Holland shows that this is a move in completely the wrong direction. When France reduced ratios in 2009, there was a backlash from parents concerned about quality and higher sickness levels among childcare workers. The French government is now reviewing its policy. Similarly changes in Holland introduced in 2005 have not worked with many since reversed (See Daycare Trust report on Childminders in the Netherlands).
Surveys regularly show that parents’ biggest concern is the cost of childcare. But Liz Truss’s announcement does nothing to tackle affordability. Parents will have to wait until the Budget in March to see what the government will do to help families on low and middle incomes to pay for childcare.
The country is going through a baby boom so more families need childcare. Better more affordable childcare requires substantial investment by government as well as a review of how current funding is used. 28 January 2013
Next week the Government is set to unveil its plans for reforming childcare. Then in February its long-awaited plans for funding care for older people will be revealed.
But will they address the concerns of families about the cost and quality of care?
With a new baby boom and an ageing population, the country needs better, more affordable care for young children and older people. Funding better care would support economic growth by helping families to work and would give children a better start in life and older people a better quality of life.
From what has been leaked to the media, the government’s plans amount to little more than ‘rearranging the deckchairs’ when the crisis in both childcare and eldercare demands radical action and substantial extra funding. The main gainers will be wealthier families.
On childcare, the proposed deregulation threatens the quality of care and won’t make childcare more affordable. Allowing nurseries and childminders to look after more children is not a recipe for improving quality.
Extending tax exemptions on childcare spending through vouchers provided through employers will benefit wealthier families.
On eldercare, the prospect of a £75k cap on care costs is the dampest of damp squibs. It doesn’t deal with the chronic underfunding of care; instead it would simply substitute private spend on care by wealthier families with public spending.
It’s also misleading. Older people living in a care home could face much larger bills than £75k because the cap only covers care costs and they would therefore still have to sell their home.
If the government’s announcements are as expected, this will be seen as a massive missed opportunity.
Clearly the government recognises that childcare and eldercare need to be improved and made much more affordable. But its plans don’t tackle the fundamental problems – they rearrange the deckchairs.
Increasingly families will have to pay for or provide care themselves. The next government will have to address the growing problems that will result.
Better care for young children and older people should be central to our social and economic future. 25 January 2013
Child benefit cuts this week will mean that 820,000 families will lose the full benefit and 320,000 families will have their benefit cut, with the expected loss to be around £1,300 a year. But the way in which the universal benefit has been cut to take payments away from the better off is flawed and will cause a significant rise in marginal tax rates for some families.
But the very families that the child benefit cut was supposed to hit - better off families - are likely to gain from new help for childcare predicted to be announced in the coalition government’s mid-term review on 7 January.
It is thought that the announcement will enable parents to write off up to a third of childcare costs against tax.
In addition it is anticipated that some form of deregulation will be announced, increasing the number of babies and children a childminder can care for.
Some will welcome these proposals. But there are at least three reasons why it won’t be good news:
The above proposals are nothing more than ‘rearranging the deckchairs’. Without significant extra tax funding, these reforms will not make childcare more affordable for most families. Long term there has to be an overhaul of childcare funding to make it simpler and more equitable for working families. 6 January 2013
All the signs are that the government will announce (in its mid-term review on 7 January) its plans for reforming care funding.
This is widely predicted to include a cap on care costs of £75k.
Some are expected to welcome this proposal. But there are at least three reasons why it won't be good news:
1) it doesn't deal with the chronic underfunding of care at a time when demands are growing because of our ageing population; the cap substitutes private spending by wealthier families with public spending; it doesn't provide extra funding for all the unmet needs, with almost one million older people already missing out on care and support
2) the cap is misleading and even more complex than the current system; a £75k cap would only cover 'standard-rate care' costs so anyone in residential care would face much higher bills for their 'hotel' costs and above standard-rate care costs and therefore may still have to sell their home to pay for care home fees; for many families having to pay at least £75k will be daunting on its own and may require them to sell their home
3) by developing a new funding stream for crisis care, the proposal does not promote either integration between care and health or prevention - both of which are critical to making better use of scarce resources and to delivering better care in or closer to older people's homes.
A simpler, fairer and more immediate solution would be to raise the assets threshold to £200,000 or £250,000 and use extra funding to fill the gaps in the current system. Let's hope those sleep-walking towards a cap wake up in time. 4 January 2013
In its forthcoming mid-term review the government is expected to announce its plans for reforming both childcare and eldercare.
The key test will be whether the proposals make care more affordable for families and tackle the chronic underfunding of care which hits both quality and availability.
Various bits of kite-flying suggest that little extra public funding will support either childcare or eldercare. And proposals for paying for care will favour wealthier families.
Without significant extra tax funding, any announcements will simply be further rearranging of the deckchairs. The cost of care will continue to be shifted onto struggling families. And many will have to give up work as a result or rely on family carers.
Of course there are alternatives which United for All Ages and others have pushed. Investing in care will have huge economic and social benefits for our country and for families.
This month we will see if it's a case of 'don't care, won't pay'. 3 January 2013
Happy new year and welcome to 2013.
'Optimistic and realistic' are the touchstones of the Prime Minister's new year message.
With at least another five years of austerity promised, it's hard to be optimistic. Once the glow of Christmas and 2012 memories fades, 2013 looks like being a very tough year for Britain and most of its citizens.
United for All Ages will keep pressing for a Britain for all ages. A country that brings younger and older people together to tackle some of the big economic and social issues that we face - from care and housing to loneliness, ageism and unemployment.
Much needs to be done to address growing social problems exacerbated by austerity.
A different approach is also required. Too much attention is given to curing ills, not enough to preventing them.
In 2013 United for All Ages will be highlighting how action by and for all ages can be the basis for a national prevention strategy from cradle to grave. From active ageing to tackling obesity and giving children a good start, we have to help people to help themselves.
In these tough times we can and must do things differently. 2 January 2013
Lots of people are driving home for Christmas as families get together.
Christmas is probably one of the most multigenerational things that we do as a nation. Like this family in Wales where five generations are celebrating together.
But why just Christmas? And why do so many people spend Christmas on their own?
Everyone reading will have their answers. But let's pledge to make 2013 a year when Britain really does become a country for all ages.
Thanks for your support this year and have yourselves a good one. 21 December 2012
According to the Daily Telegraph today, the coalition government is considering implementing the Dilnot proposals for funding care but with a cap on costs of £75k.
Movement at last, some may cheer. But why?
Please don't be fooled by the £75k cap:
- individuals in residential care would still have to pay for the 'hotel' costs on top of the cap
- the £75k cap would only cover eligible care costs for people above a certain level of need
- most people don't have £75k knocking around so they would be forced to pay by selling their home or taking out insurance
- it does not bring new funding into the underfunded care system - it substitutes private spending with public spending
- it won't promote prevention and it won't promote the integration of health and care
- it would particularly protect the inheritances of wealthier families
- it would make the care system even more complicated and unfair and wouldn't meet the growing costs of our ageing population
Don't forget there are alternatives to Dilnot. 28 November 2012
Childcare is certainly centre stage.
Today sees Equalities Minister Maria Miller announcing small grants for childcare start-ups. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently made announcements on capital funding for nurseries and extending free childcare for two year olds. New Childcare Minister Liz Truss talks about the need to make childcare more affordable. Rumours abound about deregulation.
But what does it all add up to? What we need is a proper childcare strategy not more piecemeal announcements. The £2 million announced today is a drop in the ocean. Childcare funding needs to be simplified and reformed. But making childcare more affordable and sustainable also requires a substantial injection of revenue funding.
Perhaps the Government's long-awaited Childcare Commission will deliver a strategy when its report appears. Families can't wait any longer for the childcare crisis to be tackled. 14 November 2012
Substantial extra funding by the government is needed to make childcare more affordable for parents. The Treasury must also review and simplify current funding to ensure it is used as well as possible.
The call from United for All Ages comes as the government's childcare commission prepares its findings and the Resolution Foundation publishes its latest report, Counting the costs of childcare.
With British parents facing some of the highest childcare costs in Europe, many - particularly women - are finding it almost impossible to make work pay. Evidence from other countries shows that dropping out of work while having children has significant lifetime effects on women's income and on the economy.
United for All Ages says extra tax funding should be used as follows:
- the offer of free fifteen hours early education for hours early education for all three and four year olds should be extended to all two year olds and providers must be properly funded for delivering this offer
- the childcare element of the working tax credit should be improved to cover up to 85% of childcare costs for working parents on low incomes. It should also not be reduced for families using childcare for a second or third child
- the childcare element of the working tax credit should cover up to 100% of childcare costs for parents entering work for the first six months
- the tax exemption cap on employer-supported childcare vouchers should be raised to £75 a week
- a national ‘oyster-style’ card should be introduced for all parents to pay for childcare. This card could include the childcare element of working tax credit and the tax exempt employer-supported childcare vouchers. It would ensure that help with childcare costs could only be used to pay for childcare while giving parents choice of childcare provider.
Childcare costs British parents much more than elsewhere in Europe because the state subsidy is much lower here. Let’s not beat about the bush - radical reform is needed not more sticking plaster. We need to ensure that all the various funding streams are used as effectively as possible through a Treasury review. Then we must increase childcare funding and direct help much better. We must not compromise on quality - better funding not deregulation is the answer. It’s crucial for parents, children and our economy that we get this right now. 29 October 2012
The idea of letting parents and grandparents use their pensions to guarantee mortgages for their children or grandchildren on the face of it sounds reasonable.
But...many grandparents already help out with housing costs for their children and grandchildren. And more fundamentally this won't do anything to redress inequality and social immobility.
Those who will benefit will be from wealthier families who have good pension provision. They probably have already benefited from the bank of mum and dad. Why give them another hand-up?
If the Lib Dems want to address intergenerational fairness, they should tax wealth and use it to give all young people the chance to study, work, earn a decent income and buy a home. 23 September 2012