Not a “Death Tax” but a choice

Having had a Royal Commission, two Wanless reports, a national debate, a Select Committee Inquiry, a Green Paper and a White Paper, and with a vision paper and a new White Paper on their way, the coalition government today set up it’s Commission on the Funding of Care and Support to address the issue of funding adult social care.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just not sure we’ve thought about it enough.

Anyway, it having made for such good news before, the coverage of the announcement immediately resurrected the political battle over the “Death Tax”, i.e. a compulsory payment from people’s estates once they’ve died to pay for adult social care in England.

Just for old time’s sake I thought I’d merely note that the “Death Tax” was not at all what it is claimed to be. I wrote a long post on this the last time, but my basic point was this:

An individual will need to make contributions [to the cost of their care] (depending on the model chosen). The individual then has a choice about how they can make that contribution. The menu of options are as follows:

  • Before or after retirement;
  • In installments;
  • As a lump sum; or
  • After their death if they preferred

Thus, payment from their estate once they were dead was simply one method of payment that someone could choose to use if they wanted to.

For what it’s worth, the fundamental choice facing the Commission is whether or not you compel people to save for the rainy day of needing adult social care (the collective approach) or whether you make it voluntary, albeit still encouraging people to take up this option (the individual approach).

Given (a) the informing ideology of the coalition government (broadly “liberalism”), and (b) the deficit as the defining narrative for the period of time in which this decision will be made, my money is on the voluntary options (more’s the pity).


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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