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I completely agree. That is exactly the kind of incentive that we should encourage. The longer that we can encourage people to live independently, the better their quality of life and the better it is for the taxpayer, because there will not be those ongoing bills. The point is exactly that as we live longer, we will spend many years in a condition of frailty, and that needs to be properly managed through the system.
Every parent, with the best will in the world, will wish to hand on as much of their assets to their offspring as possible, but that could also encourage behaviours that are bad for their health. I want my parents to realise the value of their assets rather than protect their inheritance for me. I am sure that most people would think that about their parents, but there is a lot we can do on the tax system and incentives to encourage families to manage those issues collectively and in a way that is good for people’s welfare as they become elderly and enables them to do more for their children.
It is high time that we tackled this issue. We should also not look at this entirely in isolation from the issues regarding working-age adults, which are also a major challenge for local authorities as they manage their finances in this area. We must look at the issue of people with learning disabilities and autism being increasingly placed in areas of long-term care. The issue is that, although we have been broadly successful in moving out people with learning disabilities through the transforming care programme, sadly the pipeline afforded by those people moving out has been filled by people with autism. The Government have to give a much clearer challenge to commissioners. When faced with people with complex needs, the first instinct should not be to put them in residential care. Too often we have seen how those kinds of placements do harm. We need to challenge local CCGs and NHS England to put much better care upstream by providing early diagnoses for people with autism and giving them the tools to protect themselves.