Councils call for national old age social care loans scheme

Elderly man with carer
Image caption Council leaders want the government rather than local authorities to underwrite a scheme

A national deferred payment scheme to help people pay for their social care costs in old age should be created by ministers, English councils have urged.

The Local Government Association said the government could set up a company to lend money which would be paid back from a person's estate when they die.

Such a scheme is already run by several local authorities and the government is keen to create a nationwide system.

But the LGA says the government should underwrite it, rather than councils.

The government says it has been consulting on a range of its reforms, including deferred payments, and will publish its response in the New Year.

'Peace of mind'

The LGA says the government should underwrite a national scheme because budget cuts mean councils do not have the money.

LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said: "Deferred payment schemes can offer peace of mind to people worried about how they are going to pay for care in old age.

"This is an option which councils would like to be able to offer to as many people as possible but we have limited funds that restrict us from doing so.

"We suggest that government considers an option for a separate national organisation, similar to the Student Loans Company, to run the deferred payment scheme on behalf of councils.

"This needs to be part of a huge overhaul of the system that brings care up to a standard fit for the 21st Century and ensures that our increasingly ageing population can lead happy, healthy independent lives long into their old age."

Adequately funded

The proposal has been put forward by the LGA along with two other local government bodies, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace).

Solace chair Joanna Killian said the government's changes to social care needed to be adequately funded.

ADASS president Sandie Keene added: "Funding is of paramount importance in ensuring that older people's wellbeing, safety and security lie at the heart of a modern, integrated and effective social care system.

"The proposals we have put forward alongside colleague associations will help towards that end."

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: "We do not want people to have to sell their homes in their lifetime to pay for care, as is often the case in the current system. We have always been clear that a deferred payment scheme must be sustainable in the long term and we have committed to giving councils £335million in 2015/16 to help fund our changes.

"This is one of a range of proposals we think will make the system fairer — protecting people from unlimited care costs and helping them to pay for care. Our proposals have been part of an open consultation with the public and we will consider all the responses, including this one, carefully."

BBC social affairs correspondent Michael Buchanan said that in the fiendishly complicated world of who pays for what in adult social care this proposal was at least easy to understand.

Ministers have also said they will be giving councils £335m to help implement social care changes which include the £72,000 cap on what individuals would be expected to pay from 2016.

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