Like most of the British public, I disliked the Conservatives’ “dementia tax” proposal during the election campaign. When you make someone’s access to social care dependent on giving up the money they intend to pass on to descendants, you risk encouraging them to struggle on without seeking the help they need. While you’d hope most people would prioritise the wellbeing of elderly family members over cold hard cash, it seems inevitable that some might delay organising support for relatives to avoid depleting their future wealth.
There are strong, practical reasons for making essential public services free at the point of access – even when means testing would theoretically ensure only people who can afford it are required to pay directly. It’s impossible to fully understand the value of universality if your only assessment criteria is redistributive efficiency.
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