Approaches to social care funding Social care funding options

February 2018

Lillie Wenzel
Laura Bennett
Simon Bottery
Richard Murray
Bilal Sahib

Key points

  • There is scope for making small improvements within the current system, and this approach would recognise the great difficulty successive governments have faced in achieving major reform. However, it would not address many of the fundamental problems with the current system, including the downward trend in the numbers receiving publicly funded care. Nor would it protect people against ‘catastrophic’ care costs.
  • The Conservative Party’s proposals would have, for some, resulted in a more generous system than the one currently in place. However, there are real concerns around implementing and operating such a complex system. There is also a question as to whether this would be the best use of additional funding for social care.
  • While a joint health and social care budget might support progress towards more integrated care, it will not in itself address the differences in eligibility between the two systems, or generate additional revenue for health or care.
  • Free personal care would mean increasing the government’s ‘offer’ on social care. However, given this would require an increase in public spending, there is a question as to whether this would be the best use of additional funding for social care.
  • A hypothecated tax may help gain public support for raising additional funding for social care. However, this would represent a significant shift from the existing system, and could exacerbate the lack of alignment between the health and social care.

This working paper from the Health Foundation and The King's Fund considers five approaches to funding social care for older people in England.

The chosen models reflect the solutions most commonly raised in the debate around social care funding, and are not a comprehensive list of possible models. The objective of this paper is not to put forward a single recommendation, but to set out the implications of each of the five models.

    Further reading

    Research report

    A fork in the road: Next steps for social care funding reform

    May 2018
    Research report

    Our new report looks into the costs of social care funding options, public attitudes to them, and...


    NHS at 70: What’s the problem with social care, and why do we need to do better?

    June 2018

    The second of five briefings to inform and encourage a national conversation about the past,...

    You might also like...


    Webinar: How will the public mood shape care after the pandemic?


    This event, co-hosted with Ipsos MORI, looked at how public perceptions, expectations and priorities...

    Press release

    ESRC and Health Foundation to put evidence into practice in new adult social care centre

    Press release

    A brand new centre for adult social care will set out to put evidence into practice to promote and...


    Webinar: The Health and Care White Paper unbound


    Watch back as our panel critically assessed the major proposals set out in the government's February...

    Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

    Get social

    How can the benefits system support the nation’s health? Research into Universal Credit uptake during the pandemi…

    Follow us on Twitter
    Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

    Work with us

    We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

    View current vacancies
    Artboard 101 copy 2

    The Q community

    Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

    Find out more