Over 40s Should Pay More Into NHS, Report Says
Older generations and the wealthy should be taxed more to pay for the NHS and social care, according to a new report.
A commission established by the think tank The King's Fund also suggested the over-75s should be stripped of their free TV licences and winter fuel payments should only be given to those most in need.
It recommended that in order to relieve the "huge pressures" on the care system and the NHS when someone reaches the age of 40 their National Insurance (NI) contributions should increase by 1%.
Those who work past the state pension age, who are not currently required to pay NI should also be required to pay a reduced rate, the report suggests.
The wealthy would also face a percentage point increase in contributions they pay on earnings over the £42,000 threshold.
The expert panel concluded that health and social care funding in England should be placed under one ring-fenced budget with funds allocated by a single commissioner.
It said this combined fund would cost between 11% and 12% of England's economic output by 2025 - roughly the equivalent of many other countries around the world.
The report said the current system creates "confusion, perverse incentives and much distress for individuals and families".
"We recommend on the grounds of equity, affordability and inter-generational fairness that at least some of the extra revenue to pay for the large-scale improvements that we seek should come from the group that will be among the biggest beneficiaries of the changes, namely the older generation and particularly its more affluent members," it said.
"Resources can be released by targeting existing benefits ... away from affluent pensioners, and diverting the money into health and social care."
Among other suggestions, the report said prescription charges should be reduced to £2.50 instead of the current £8.05, with fewer people being eligible for free prescriptions.
In total, the recommended measures would generate around £5bn.
Dame Kate Barker, who led the commission, said: "Our system is not fit to provide the kind of care we need and want.
"We propose radical change, greater than any since 1948, that would bring immense benefit to people who fall between the cracks between means-tested social care and a free NHS."
A Government spokesman said: "We agree that health and social care services should be more joined up - our £3.8bn Better Care Fund is making this a reality for the first time ever, bringing NHS and social care teams together to help people live independently for as long as possible.
"We have taken tough economic decisions to support social care services and protect the NHS budget, which we have increased by £12.7bn since 2010."
Labour's shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "The simple fact is that there is no sustainable future for the NHS in the 21st century without a long-term solution for social care."