Elderly Britons Financially Shunned – Unlike in Continental Europe

Grandparents, parents and child at dinner table

Britons do not prioritise caring for older generations |Photo: ALAMY

Unlike our French and Italian counterparts, the richest Britons do not prioritise caring for older generations.

Only a third of rich Britons are willing to provide financial support to elderly relatives – a dismal figure when compared with our European counterparts.

A study due to be published next week and seen exclusively by The Telegraph will highlight the difference in how Britons look after older generations compared with the French and Italians.

The survey from BlackRock, the fund manager, targeted the “mass affluent” – households with an income of £150,000 or more – and found that two thirds of French couples were prepared to look after their parents in old age.

When Britons were asked whether providing support to elderly relatives was a priority, only a fifth said yes, compared with more than half of French people and two thirds of Italians.

In part this disparity is due to different social trends. It is much more common in France and Italy for older generations to move back in with their children to provide child care to grandchildren and help with the running of the home.

This saves both parties money – those who are working do not have to pay for outside child care, and the older generations save on household bills and, in time, social care.

In a continent where life expectancy for 65-year-olds is more than 15 years and the ratio of pensioners to those in work is rising, care for the elderly is a pressing issue.

Recent proposals to change the way long-term care is funded in this country should help to alleviate the financial burden felt by younger generations.

In the Queen’s Speech it was announced that the lifetime cost of elderly and disabled care would be limited to a maximum of £72,000. Family members who look after elderly relatives will receive new legal rights.

The limit is more than double the £35,000 cap recommended by the independent Dilnot Commission in 2011, and will not be introduced until 2016.

You will have to “self-fund” only if you have assets of more than £123,000, which includes any property and private pension savings you may have. Currently, those with assets of £23,250 or more are expected to pay care bills in full, and there is no cap on these bills.

The existing system to decide whether you are eligible for free “continuing care” is also inconsistent and difficult to navigate. To be eligible for continuing care you must be deemed to have a “primary health need”.

Assessment is based on 11 “care domains”, such as behaviour and mobility.

If you do not qualify for free care you will have to pay for it up to the total of £72,000 under the new system. However, board and lodging costs are not included in this limit.

The average cost of a residential home is now £580 a week, or more than £700 a week for a nursing home, of which up to two thirds could be deemed board and lodging – so the total cost of care for the elderly could be much more than the cap.

– The Telegraph