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UK: 70% of over-55s do not believe they should pay for care


- Just 2% of over-55s have long-term care insurance
- Majority (81%) worried, concerned or terrified about meeting care costs
- Almost half (46%) call on the Government to set clear care standards

Despite Government warnings that the current elderly care system is unsustainable, 70% of over-55s don’t believe that they should pay for care in retirement. Of those who do, they state that just £3,610 is a fair cost for a lifetime of care, reveals Aviva’s latest Real Retirement Report.

The costing conundrum:

While the majority of over-55s would prefer not to pay for care, they do concede that it is unlikely that the State will be able to pay for everyone’s care. The most popular funding options were for the “better off” to contribute to the cost of their own care but for the Government to pick up the tab for everyone else (51%) or for those who can afford to, to contribute to the cost of care (36%).

How affordability is determined was a matter for debate with some suggesting it should be based on current assets (16%) and others feeling lifetime income (14%) should be the measure. Irrespective of what system was used, the majority (53%) felt there should be a cap on how much an individual was forced to pay towards their own care.

Lack of planning:

Despite the fact that under the current system people are expected to finance aspects of their care, the research highlighted a significant lack of preparation. Over half (53%) of over-55s have no plans at all in place to meet these costs and 14% continue to believe that the Government will cover all the fees.

Even amongst those who do say they have some plans in place, just 2% have long-term care insurance with others preferring to rely on savings and investments (13%), housing equity (9%), their pension funds (3%) and on family assistance (3%).

However, while some over-55s were happy to use their housing equity to finance care, a clear majority (62%) believe that they should not be forced to sell their house to pay for care. Those aged 65-75 were the most averse to seeing their homes sold to pay for care (68%) – potentially as they have already ear-marked the equity for other costs in retirement.

Significant concerns and confusion:

Just 19% of over-55s say they are relaxed with the majority feeling concerned (41%), just over a quarter feel worried (29%) and – even – terrified (12%) about the prospect of meeting long-term care costs. While there were lots of different options as to how care should be funded, one clear message from the research was that the over-55s needed more guidance.

Indeed, almost half (47%) said there needs to be clearer information on the topic, 46% felt the Government should set clear universal care standards and 36% would like to see a single Government department responsible for all care issues. This move would help to clear up any confusion as 48% of people look to the State in one form or another for advice on this issue – 18% to the Government directly, 16% to their local council and 14% to a medical professional.

Clive Bolton, ‘at retirement’ director at Aviva said: “Our research clearly shows that the majority of over-55s do not believe that they should have to pay for care in retirement. However with a rapidly ageing population, this is simply not possible and over-55s realise that they are likely to have to make some sort of contribution to the overall cost of their care.

“What form this contribution will take is not clear but with just 2% of over-55s claiming to have long-term care insurance, the likelihood is that they will need to look to other assets such as savings, investments or housing equity. Many people are looking to the State for guidance on care funding, standards and entitlement so now is the time for the Government to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Dilnot Commission and take steps to build a sustainable system.”


Download The Aviva Real Retirement Report: Issue Seven - September 2011 (PDF 2.25MB):

Notes to editors:

This report was designed and produced by Wriglesworth Research with Opinionmatters. It is a definitive look at the personal finances of the UK’s over-55 population. Not only does it look at personal wealth, income sources and expenditure patterns but also tracks how these change in the “three ages” of retirement.

Online interviews with over 10,000 UK consumers aged over-55 between February 2010 and August 2011 provided the data for the series Aviva Real Retirement Reports.

Management information was provided by Aviva, with additional data provided by:

- Department for Local Government and Communities
- Office of National Statistics – Inflation Data
- Halifax – House Price Index
- Aviva – Family Finances Report

A separate press release from Aviva’s Real Retirement Report which highlights the over-55s finances can be found at:

About Aviva:

Aviva is the world’s sixth largest* insurance group. We provide more than 53 million customers with insurance, savings and investment products with total worldwide sales in 2010 of £47.1 billion**.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with 19 million customers and one in three households has a relationship with us. Our combination of life, health and general insurance is unique in its scale and breadth in the UK market. Customers can choose to buy our products through intermediaries, our corporate partners or from Aviva direct and we have become the partner of choice for many of the UK’s biggest organisations.

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top 10 most valuable brands and Aviva plc are in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In 2010 we invested £4.3m into our communities in the UK, which included 1,500 Aviva volunteers giving 24,000 hours for good causes. In addition, our employees gave £600,000 through fundraising and donating. Read our corporate responsibility report at

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life. Find out more at

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* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2010.
** at 31 December 2010.


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