Sunday, 8 July 2012

So what exactly is that money for?


Again the unedifying debate over care for the elderly - characterised by the sons and daughters of comfortable middle-class folk arguing that their parents assets shouldn't be use to provide care for those parents.

"It seems so wrong that after mum and dad worked hard all their lives, everything that they saved for had to go. The day we sold the house my sister and I could barely speak for tears, as we packed all their belongings up." 

The mum in question is on her own, is 85 and has dementia. Of course it's sad that lives end this way, dementia can be a terrible slow death and is traumatising for the person's family. But what exactly did mum and dad save for? It seems to me (and always has done) that part of the reason for saving is to provide care when we can't look after ourselves any more.

There really is a need to look at how we provide care for the elderly, it is one of the biggest public health challenges that faces us. But the standards and breadth of care will never come about so long as we carp and wail about the loss of inheritance. Is it not worse that people with significant assets (or more commonly those who stand to inherit those assets) expect someone else to pay for their care? Especially when that someone else is a struggling family or a young man earning just above minimum wage.

And while we're talking about tax - we are still living with the consequences of Nye Bevan's great lie. With this idea that we "pay in" to the National Insurance system. It is - and always has been - just another tax on income but we still hear this:

"They paid into the system all their lives"

No they didn't. They just paid taxes to provide the things government was providing - they had the benefit of hospitals, schools, roads, police, an army and all the other things we've voted for having. The truth is that they've eaten the cake. And it was a pretty big slice.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're right, of course.
The key problem is the 'expectation of inheritance' in the Daily Mail mindset - all following generations have come to expect that the product of their parents' hard work or good fortune or both should not be used to sustain those parents in their decline, but should rather be passed on, unused, to the undeserving offspring.
Yet that same generation of offspring will resist any moves to raise the necessary taxes to cover the alternative.
An electoral nightmare for any party to solve - good luck.