Written Answers. - Long-term Care.

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

271 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the overall cost to her Department of the study to examine the future financing of long-term care in Ireland undertaken on her behalf by a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19044/03]

A comprehensive study on the future financing of long-term care was carried out by Mercer Human Resource Consultants on behalf of my Department. The consultancy fee was €107,950 plus VAT. The consultant's brief was to examine three broad areas, namely the potential of the private sector or a combined public private sector approach to assist in financing-funding long-term care; the potential of the PRSI system to finance-fund long-term care; and whether the current system of long-term care financing, through taxation, should remain thestatus quo.The findings and recommendations of the report highlight the need for consideration of specific issues and the need for careful planning for the future. To make progress in the area of policy on long-term care, I now propose to prepare a consultation document to accompany this study which will aim to focus all interested parties on the specific issues we need to address. These will be significant issues including those in relation to benefit designs, cost and financing. These are discussed at length in the report. A consultation process on the financing of long-term care will then take place. This process will be undertaken by my Department in close consultation with the Department of Health and Children and will take place over about a three month period. It will be important that all interested parties take the time to study this report and in due course feed in to this consultation process.

The partnership agreement Sustaining Progress contains a commitment to "establish a working group to examine the strategic policy, cost and service delivery issues associated with the care of older people" and I intend that the outcome of the consultation process will form an important input to the work of the group. I hope this working group can be established early in 2004.