Social care deferred payments (aka “Death Tax”): spot the difference competition

Here’s a fun game. See if you can spot the difference between the following proposals for funding social care.

This from the National Care Service White Paper last year (p137):

Under the comprehensive National Care Service, we will therefore introduce a universal deferred payment system[.] This means that no one will be force to sell their home in their lifetime[.]

Many local authorities already offer deferred payments, but it is not universal across England. We are therefore going to require local authorities to provide accessible deferred payment agreements to everyone who cannot afford to pay [without] using up the last of their savings and selling their homes.

This, of course, was the proposal that was labeled a “Death Tax”.

Here’s a likely proposal in the Dilnot report tomorrow, as reported in the Observer:

Local councils are poised to take on a major financial services role under proposed reforms to be unveiled on Monday of the funding system for the care of elderly and disabled people.

Under the scheme local authorities will be empowered to make a loan at a preferential rate against the value of a property owned by someone entering a care home. The loan would be redeemed on the sale of the property after the person dies.

And, just for fun, see if you can tell the difference between the two proposals above with the legislation that is already in place (this from footnote 108 from the Health Select Committee’s Social Care report in 2009/10):

Councils currently have the discretion, under section 55 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001, to offer a person who fails the means test on account of property assets a Deferred Payments Agreement[.] Where this is approved, the council continues to pay for care, effectively providing an interest-free loan that is repaid from the proceeds when the property is eventually sold (following termination of the agreement by the resident or after their death). The council can begin charging interest on the loan 56 days after the resident’s death.

Just to save you a little bit of time, I’ll let you in on a secret: in principle, the 3 proposals are exactly the same.


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

2 thoughts on “Social care deferred payments (aka “Death Tax”): spot the difference competition”

  1. Richard, I think you’re slightly off the mark there. The reference to deferred payments in Building a National Care Service was I think in relation to ‘hotel costs’, i.e. those costs which fell outside the universal free *personal* care offer of the proposed National Care Service, which Labour favoured funding through a new IHT. So not the same as the death tax proposal. However, there is an interesting wider point here about public willingness to pay for care costs from their estates. Are people more willing to pay for deferred care costs from their estates, as opposed to some form of social insurance premium/tax (i.e. contribution to risk-pooling)?
    Best wishes,

    1. Hi James – thanks for your comment.

      My slight editing of the White Paper quote is because the quote referred to universal deferred payments proposals for accommodation costs, rather than just personal care costs. I don’t think Labour committed one way or another to how the personal care elements would be paid for – they said they preferred the Comprehensive model, and would set up a Commission to determine what level of compulsory payments would be made and how this would be collected. (This aside from the free care at home, opportunistic electioneering stuff, obviously!)

      Thus, I think the “Death Tax” stuff (insomuch as those responsible for calling it this were specific about what it related to) did relate specifically to the accommodation costs proposal.

      But your wider point still holds, and is an interesting one: is the public more willing to accept the *principle* of using part of an estate to pay for costs relating to care per se? The fact they can already do this (as per my post above) is almost a detail…

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