A leading think-tank has cast doubt on the government's plans to push people into taking out secondary pensions and insurance to fund longterm care.

A King's Fund study of 100 people living on average or below average incomes found most could not afford to do both. Many could not afford to do either.

People in their 70s were already struggling to pay for services when they needed them, with a third reporting that their weekly outgoings exceeded their income.

Half of people in their 50s were reporting financial difficulties. Two-thirds expected to have to cut their standard of living on retirement.

King's Fund chief executive Rabbi Julia Neuberger said: 'The government is asking the public to take more responsibility for their own long-term care and is thinking of introducing savings or insurance products to which people will contribute. At the same time, it is asking people to contribute more to their pensions. This is simply not sustainable.

'It is unfortunate that the government's firm commitment to a tax-funded NHS that is free at the point of use does not extend to long-term care services. Our study suggests that tomorrow's pensioners will be no better off than today's.'

The study says the government's policy is to pay everybody the basic state pension, but to assume most people will have a second pension. People on higher incomes will be expected to take out private pensions. Those on incomes of£9,000 to£18,000 will be expected to rely on the new 'second state pension' or means-tested minimum income guarantee.

The study says insufficient attention has been focused on the government's 'instinct to extend means testing' that led it to decide that people should pay their own housing and living costs.

The report worked out that the care costs of a man with dementia and a single woman in a wheelchair would be£450-£500 a week and£200-£250 per week respectively.

This, the King's Fund notes, is 'too high for most people to pay out of their own pockets'.

Single pensioners in its study were living on between£80 and£125 a week. Two-thirds of 50year-olds earned less than£200 a week. Average expenditure was£174 a week.

The minimum income guarantee is£78.45 a week for single people and£121.95 for couples.

The results also found that people thought the government 'can and should pay for long-term care'.

Authors Chris Deeming and Justin Keen call on the government to rethink its policies.

Paying for Old Age. www.kingsfund.org.uk