'Time for commissioner for the old' says peer

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Labour peer Baroness Bakewell has called for a major increase in spending on social care and said it is "time for the appointment of a commissioner for the old in England".

Peers debated the Care Bill, which introduces a single statute on care and support to simplify the law in this area, at second reading on 21 May 2013.

She outlined her idea for a "commissioner for the old" in England, who would have their own budget and office which she said would be "money well-spent".

The Conservatives' Lord Mackay of Clashfern was also concerned about the cost and warned ministers that "without adequate funding the anticipation of what this bill will achieve will be considerably higher than the actual realisation".

Health Minister Earl Howe, introducing the legislation to the Lords, said it was the most significant reform of care and support law for more than 60 years.

He said the current care and support system offered "little financial protection" for the cost of care, which would be more than £100,000 in total for one in 10 people.

"Critically, the bill will reform care and support funding by creating a cap on care costs, giving people peace of mind by protecting them from catastrophic costs," he said.

'Watered down'

Labour accused the government of "overselling" its plans to cap the amount people have to pay for social care.

Labour spokeswoman Baroness Wheeler said it was "disappointing" that the government had "watered down" the Dilnot proposals.

The Care Bill would limit social care costs to £72,000 from 2016.

She said the figure "would not be enough to stop many people with modest properties, especially in the north of England, selling their homes for care".

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Baroness Jolly told the House that she welcomed the broad thrust of the bill but that there remained a risk of "unintended consequences".

She noted that the bill was only for adult carers and contained no provisions for young carers, who had a "real need" for assistance.

Under the government's plans, there will be Ofsted-style ratings for hospitals and care homes, and new powers of intervention for the chief inspector of hospitals to identify any problems with the quality of care.

The package of measures will apply to England only.

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