The papers today all carry the story of David Cameron indicating that the next Tory manifesto will contain substantive proposals to provide an element of free personal care for the elderly. He has spoken of a desire to implement a system where you pay for the first year or two and then get it free. In Scotland, of course, it is completely free, courtesy no doubt of the munificence of the Barnett Formula.
The terrible thing about this whole subject is the means test for the elderly who go into homes and then face the terrible prospect of having to sell their own home to finance it. Care home fees are horrendous and there are few people who can afford them outright. Using strict free market economic logic I suppose it is possible to argue that people should either pay their own way or make insurance provision, but this issue goes beyond economic theory. There's a lot of emotion, feeling and heartache involved, which pure economic theory can never address.
My own view is that this could become a 'clear blue water' issue for the Conservatives. Cameron has been careful not to promise complete free personal care from day one because it would be unaffordable, but if the funding were available to introduce it after the first two years he would be seen to have introduced a system which is both compassionate and sensible. And if abolishing the Barnett Formula can help pay for it, that's an added Brucie Bonus.