I recently heard on the radio that last year an average of 14 pensioners a day had to sell their house to pay for their care. This was supposed to shock us. Actually, the figure seems remarkably low (a little over 5,000 a year) and, in principle, reasonable.
Rather like home ownership itself, care in old age is a likely, though not certain, cost in an average British life. Many people with enough money to buy a house are also in a position to make some provision for that care. By the time they need care, significant numbers find themselves in houses too big and expensive for their needs.
It is not automatically wrong for such people to downsize or even to sell up to cover care costs. Much of the indignation comes understandably from the children of those selling up, who fear for their inheritance. But should this ‘first world problem’ drive public policy?
This article is an extract from Charles Moore's Spectator Notes, available in this week's magazine.