Across the last several weeks, Redfield & Wilton Strategies have been analysing the views of the British public on the social care system, a sector which has come into increasing focus since the coronavirus pandemic. In early July, we found that half of our respondents thought that social care should be free at the point of use, as the NHS is, regardless of whether individuals have contributed taxation into the system during their working lives.
A pension-style option, where individuals would contribute to their personal pot throughout the course of their lifetime, gained the support of 36% of the public with strong support (44%) among Conservative voters. Our analysis indicated that respondents supporting an NHS-style system may be unaware of the large increases in annual spending and possible tax increases that this system would require, which might change their support of such a system.
In our latest poll conducted on the 29th July, 64% of respondents indicating they would support free personal and nursing care for all people in England even at an extra cost to taxpayers, suggesting an NHS-style system for social care does indeed have approval. Only 10% of the public would oppose such a system.
The Government is reportedly considering a plan which would increase the tax and national insurance contributions of those over the age of forty in order to help fund their social care in old age. While the exact details of the government’s policy proposal have not been revealed, making over 40s pay more in tax to cover their future care would represent this ‘extra cost to taxpayers’ in exchange for free at the point of use social care favoured by 64% of in the previous question. However, when asked specifically if they would support the government’s rumoured proposal, only 37% agreed. Ultimately, the public appears less supportive of a system divergent from the status quo, if this change would impact on their personal finances.
It is notable that the policy receives a similar reception across the political spectrum. 39% of 2019 Conservative and Labour voters approve, while 31% of 2019 Conservative voters and 32% of 2019 Labour voters disapprove.
Altogether, the Government’s reported social care policy did not receive an outright hostile reception in our poll, and it seems that there is a firm base of the population who would be open to increasing their tax contribution in order to pay for free social care. However, as the costs to taxpayers become clearer, public opinion on the issue may quickly change