The States actuary has published two reports which lay bare the crisis and reveal how the current funding set up is due to fall woefully short in the next few decades.
They show that if there is no change, workers now are paying for benefits that they will not receive. The island’s ageing demographic means that in the future there will be more elderly people, often with complex needs, and there is currently no sustainable plan to pay for their care.
The Guernsey Insurance Fund – which pays for the old age pension, bereavement, incapacity, unemployment, death and maternity benefits – is forecast to fall to zero by 2039 if nothing is done. The Long Term Care Fund – which is a benefit paid towards to the cost of living in a private care home – is projected to be exhausted in 2053.
In an attempt to reassure islanders, the politicians on Employment & Social Security, which is the department in charge of the funds, have said they have no intention of allowing the pots to become depleted. However, they will need to secure States-wide support on future funding.
Deputy Peter Roffey, president of ESS, said: ‘As I pointed out to the States last month, the committee and its predecessors have been warning about this developing situation for more than a decade but no States has yet been persuaded to take the required actions. The time for action is now, and we are happy to work with the Policy & Resources Committee as part of the Tax Review to see if there are alternative ways to achieve what is needed. This Assembly must take the remedial action required now, rather than kicking the can down the road again. Our committee has no intention of letting these funds run dry, and I look forward to the debate where we finally resolve this issue.’
The States actuary has advised that contribution rates to both funds will need to increase just to maintain a baseline target of each fund holding at least twice annual expenditure.
The current long-term care benefits for islanders in residential and nursing homes are not means tested, and they range between £521 and £1,169 per week.
In August last year the previous ESS suggested a transformation of how the island pays for long term care.
Under the proposed overhaul, pensioners with assets, including property, above £350,000 would have had to meet the first £35,000 of their care.
This scheme was defeated, mainly because it was viewed as a form of inheritance tax. Comment Page 15