Letter: Cost of old age should be met by government

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The Independent Online
Sir: The report ('Obligatory care cover for old age predicted', 7 September) suggesting that middle-class 30- and 40-year-olds may be forced to take out compulsory care insurance for their old age, serves to reinforce Abbeyfield's conviction that this government, and European governments, should plan now for coping with an ageing population.

Although, on the face of it, it may seem sensible for people to take out such insurance, it makes the assumption that the majority of the population is, or will be in the position to do so. Recent studies have concluded if those over the age of 75 wish to sell their property to pay for care home fees, only a minority of them would be able to generate sufficient income to pay for charges for the duration of their lives. In future, there is no indication that this situation will change, given these days of low interest rates and more stable property prices.

The Government must take tough decisions now to redirect resources and ensure that citizens enter retirement with the knowledge that they will be adequately housed and cared for if the need arises. If some want a more luxurious alternative, then they have the opportunity through the growing insurance schemes.

As a nation, we can no longer depend on charities and housing associations to raise voluntary funding to meet the needs of a growing older generation. We should be able to rely on the Government to provide for basic rights for older people, rights for which they have paid during a lifetime of taxation.

Yours faithfully,

FOSTER MURPHY

Chief Executive

The Abbeyfield Society

St Albans, Hertfordshire

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