Comment: A long-term problem that won't go away

Why a glaring omission from the Queen's Speech must not be put on the backburner

I'm a political animal to a certain extent but I wasn't expecting great things from the recent Queen's Speech – and I wasn't disappointed. I was very intrigued about what the speech would say about long-term care. I imagine there will be many suppressing a yawn as they read this but if you are you should be ashamed of yourselves.

This is one of the most pressing problems we face as a society and when the Dilnot Report published its recommendations some months ago I hoped that we would finally see a government with the gumption to develop a sensible framework for elderly care and hopefully an industry that might be up to the challenge of providing products to offer that care.

We now know that the Queen's Speech on May 9th only included a draft bill on social care and therefore any decision on how long-term care will be funded will be delayed until late 2013. I imagine many insurers are breathing a huge sigh of relief.

I am one of many people who has seen a parent go through the very difficult and painful process of ageing and requiring increasing amounts of care. UK demographics point to increasing numbers of us having to think about care for elderly parents and not too long afterwards go through that process ourselves.

It is easy and convenient to blame governments for short- termism, especially when, like this government, it is beleaguered and wants to put as much as possible on the backburner ahead of a very difficult election in 2015. But there are issues which a decent society must address, however politically inconvenient they may be. A £1.7bn price tag has been attached to Dilnot and clearly governments need to prioritise expenditure.

But anyone who has experience of nursing elderly parents will tell you that it is one of the most excruciating periods of their lives and, more importantly, those of their parents. Surely in the 21st century we need to step up to the plate and develop a humane and appropriate solution at governmental level which will attract support from UK insurers.

I sometimes despair that insurers don't really know what they want government to provide for them in realistic terms. Many would not wish to sully themselves with such a difficult market. Sadly I think this failure to address the issue is a very sad reflection on both our government and our industry. It's a problem that won't go away and shutting our eyes to it will give everybody a bigger problem to deal with when they deign to open them.

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