Free care for later life arrivals removed

PEOPLE who move to Guernsey in their later years will no longer be guaranteed free residential and nursing home care, under an ‘in principle’ agreement made by the States.

Employment & Social Security president Deputy Peter Roffey. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30083677)
Employment & Social Security president Deputy Peter Roffey. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30083677)

Employment & Social Security will now draw up proposals to limit the benefit entitlement based on how long people have been paying into the system.

The suggestion at this stage is that a sliding scale of eligibility would start after someone had been contributing for more than five years.

Deputy Peter Roffey, the president of ESS, said the current set-up was not fair or financially viable.

‘Is it really fair for the hard-pressed working age population of Guernsey to fund all of the care needs of someone who has only relocated to Guernsey six or seven years earlier, has paid little into the scheme, and when their own personal financial circumstances mean that they could well afford to fund their own social care?

‘Why should Guernsey nurses, plumbers and teachers have to pay higher social security contributions to pay for the needs of quite recent arrivals just to make sure their assets, which may be worth millions, are passed on completely intact to their heirs?’

The eligibility change was one of a raft of measures approved to prevent the collapse of the long-term care fund and the Guernsey Insurance Fund.

The latter fund pays for the old age pension, bereavement, incapacity, unemployment, death and maternity benefits, and up until yesterday it was forecast to run dry in 17 years’ time.

Without any change it meant that workers now would be paying for benefits that they would not receive back.

The proposals were described as ‘modest’ and ‘baby steps’, and a stop gap until the tax review had come to fruition.

Deputy Neil Inder said it was a move in the right direction, but it did not go far enough and he wanted to see a points-based immigration system and private medical insurance for people coming into the island.

‘They’ve sold their assets in a foreign country, it’s probably sitting in a bank account somewhere, yet they’re over here, their legs are falling off, they’re getting care, they’re heading towards retirement and things are definitely not getting any better.’

Deputy Victoria Oliver was worried it was a stepping stone towards everyone with property having to use that as collateral to pay for care, and Deputy Rob Prow said that would be a ‘complete red line’ for him.

Deputy Al Brouard highlighted the ‘inter-generational inequality’ in the current system.

‘What about those people who are working now, who are saving up for a house, they can’t afford a house? We are asking them to pay more so that someone else’s parents can have free nursing care so that that family can preserve their inheritance.’

All the measures from ESS were approved overwhelmingly.

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