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Help me plan for the future

31 October 2012

I can’t make up my mind where to go on holiday next year. And I still haven’t decided what to do this weekend. Hey, I don’t even know what I want for lunch today. So it will come as no surprise that I haven’t thought much about my future when it comes to care. And as is so often the case with many important, life-changing decisions, it seems I’m not alone.

Recent research from the Social Care Institute for Excellence* shows that more than two thirds of us will leave care making decisions until they are pressing, and only 15% of us are planning ahead for ourselves or our family.

To help makes things a little easier, SCIE launched a service last week called Find Me Good Care, which gives advice and guidance on care, and includes a handy directory to find local services. Although this is a great tool for those looking to weigh up their options, there is still a long way to go to make the care system more transparent, accessible – and, most importantly – more affordable.

Recently Jeremy Hunt admitted that pensioners may have to wait ‘years’ before state funding for elderly care can be introduced because plans would be too ‘expensive’. This announcement was followed by a report from the Local Government Association, which claimed that pensioners will be left ‘in limbo’ and face being stripped of their assets because of the funding crisis in elderly care. The report warned that other services, such as parks and leisure centres, will have to be sacrificed before local authorities are able to step in.

And this precarious balancing act is not just a challenge faced by councils, but each and every one of us will have to make a decision at some point about how much we can afford to invest in our future. This decision is apparently more difficult for women, according to  research by Scottish Widows. The insurer’s annual Women and Pensions report revealed that the gender gap in savings for pensions is growing, with women investing £776 a year less than men, due to growing financial pressures from rising bills, and a desire to settle debts.

However, what the Scottish Widows’ report really reveals is a need for greater economic support and financial education, to encourage us to strike the right balance between managing debt and preparing for the future. Should this responsibility lie with the authorities or with the individual? Yes, we need to change our attitude towards saving and planning for the future, but with forever changing rules and options, it is a very difficult path to navigate alone. Authorities need to understand individual barriers to planning and make it easier for us to make the important decisions. Perhaps if there was more support out there, I wouldn’t find it so difficult to plan ahead.

*SCIE is a client of Forster Communications