Wales could introduce a tax to fund social care to help resolve the “very real” pressures on social services.
Health minister Vaughan Gething told AMs on Tuesday the current situation cannot go on, and is calling for “honest” and a “grown-up debate” about increasing care costs. But the idea of raising income tax is likely to prove controversial in the run-up to the Welsh elections next year. Social care is under pressure across the UK from a squeeze on funding, an ageing population and high staff turnover. The state spends about £1.2bn on adult social care every year in Wales.
In a statement made to BBC Wales, Mr Gething said if the government wants “to seriously improve the quality and the reach of care, then it will require more funding.”
“If you want to unpick all that and say ‘actually we don’t want to raise taxes’, you’ve then got to be prepared to identify where you’ll take money from.”
Raising money from elsewhere would involve targeting other services for cuts “and after a decade of austerity I’m not sure that’s really a viable prospect.”
Currently, the population of over-85s stands at just under 85,300. The numbers of people aged over 70 and in the oldest age group are growing steadily – and as a proportion of the overall population.
It is predicted a person in their mid-30s living in Wales now could be one of more than 220,600 to be living beyond their mid-80s in Wales in 50 years’ time.