Oh death tax, where is thy sting?
Reactions to the latest proposed review of social care funding have ranged from cautious welcome to resigned cynicism. What, several commentators have tiredly enquired, can this new look at a difficult but already thoroughly rehearsed issue actually achieve? The answer surely lies in how the central question is posed.
If we ask simply how can social care be funded, all the old objections resurface, notably the big bill. Eventually a report will be produced and in all probability after a brief debate timid politicians will again banish the issue to the back burner or the long grass, depending on your cliché preference. If on the other hand, the facts that something has to be done and that whatever happens will cost a lot are stated as givens, the question then to be put to the public is – how would you prefer to pay for this?
One solution is to raise the money from a tax levied on estates after death. This idea is not new, but it gets regularly shot down, the latest occasion, according to some reports, by the Chancellor when the Prime Minister wanted it floated in the Budget. The usual tactic is to label it “a death tax”, a sure way of killing off debate, but a rather silly argument. For obvious reasons no-one like the ‘d’ word, which is why we don’t call call cemeteries death centres, wills death lists or undertakers agents of death.
Inheritance tax, to give the levy its more acceptable title, could be even more attractively expressed as the tax you never know you’ve paid. Of course your heirs may have to stump up, but that’s rather less painful than their having had to watch their inheritance seep away in care fees during your last expensive years. For your part, you enjoy quality care as long as you live, knowing that your contribution becomes payable only when money will no longer matter. The system’s weighted of course so that the burden falls more heavily on the rich.
Fairness all round. Anxiety-free care. I’ll buy that.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.