Social care costs cap wins favour


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Legislation to change the funding of social care for elderly and disabled people in England could be introduced during this Parliament, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said.

In plans out this week, the government will agree in principle to a cap on what people pay towards their own care.

Labour says this is meaningless without funding details and a timetable.

It also said the government had abandoned cross-party talks on the issue, which was denied by Mr Lansley.

Last July, a review chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot put forward a raft of ideas for changes to adult social care funding in England.

The most notable of these was a £35,000 cap on what people should pay towards home visits or care home costs before they get help from the state.

BBC political correspondent Robin Brant says the government will sign up to the funding cap principle when it publishes its White Paper on Wednesday, but ministers will not make any pledges on specific figures because there is no agreement yet on how to pay for it.

With the UK economy showing little sign of recovery and the coalition still not halfway through its deficit reduction plan, the chancellor wants to delay a decision until at least autumn next year in the government-wide spending review, our correspondent adds.

'Slower timetable'

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Lansley said: "You can't be confident about the implementation of a cap on the costs that people have to pay, unless you are also clear about how you meet the costs."

But Mr Lansley said he hoped shadow health secretary Andy Burnham would meet him before he delivered a progress report on the issue in the House of Commons next week.

Labour claims there have not been any substantial talks on the issue since February and wants publication of next week's proposals postponed.

But the government insists discussions have been continuing, with correspondence between the two sides taking place in recent months.

Mr Burnham said: "This decision to go down this separate route and do their own report reflects a decision to put the reform of the funding of social care on a slower timetable."

He went on: "A cap is meaningless if there is no plan to deliver it. How is it going to be paid for? What is the timetable to put it in place?

"You can only get progress by suspending politics as usual. If the government wants to re-open a meaningful two-way process then I will immediately go back into that."

Simon Gillespie, chairman of the Care & Support Alliance, said it had been pressing for a long time for a "long-term funding solution, and one of the mechanisms to achieve that was to try to get all three of the main parties together because this is a long-term issue affecting many millions of people across England".

"If it's genuinely the case that those talks have stalled that will be very, very disappointing," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Assets threshold

Currently in England, council-funded home help and care home places for the elderly and adults with disabilities are offered only to those with under £23,250 of assets.

The Dilnot report said the assets threshold should rise to £100,000 and a £35,000 lifetime cap on costs would be "fair".

Just over £14bn a year is spent by councils on social care and changes would cost an extra £1.7bn a year if they were implemented now. This figure could rise by 50% as the "baby boom" generation begins to retire.

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Govt sources say White Paper on social care this Wed 'will be biggest reform of social care for 50 or 60 years' ‪#carecrisis‬ ‪#dilnot‬”

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Campaign groups have said they fear the plans will be shelved because of the cost.

The Care & Support Alliance says one in two people needs care in their lifetime costing more than £20,000, while one in 10 requires care costing upwards of £100,000.

"We need to make sure that we have got arrangements in place so that that risk can be shared," Mr Gillespie said. "People understand that it's got to be a shared contribution between the overall taxpayer but also individuals as well."

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK, said acceptance in principle of Dilnot recommendations would be "a step forward and welcome, but with care in crisis now it is not nearly enough".

"The government must set out the process by which it will make the all-important decisions about funding social care, including timescales and milestones. That is the very least older people and their families will be looking for next week."

Stricter criteria

The coalition government had asked Mr Dilnot to look into how the system could be changed amid concerns it was getting harder for people to get access to state support.

The ageing population and squeeze on council budgets have led councils to impose stricter criteria on who can get help. It means while 1.8 million are getting state funding, another one million-plus either have to pay for support themselves or go without.

Multiple sclerosis sufferer David Allen told the BBC that he was forced to cancel his own care after the charges were raised by his council from £2.80 to £60 a week.

"At the time it was making me so ill, I had to make the very difficult decision, 'Enough's enough. Stop. You're dragging me into debt. I'm not prepared to allow to be swallowed up in a hole that I can't get out of.'" he said.

"It feels like I am being punished for having multiple sclerosis."

The shadow health secretary said: "As councils cut budgets, we've got services being withdrawn from vulnerable people, people paying ever-increasing charges for care - so this really can't go on.

"It is as bad as the American healthcare system, because the most vulnerable in our society are paying the biggest cost towards their own care. Some people are paying with their own home."

Scotland offers free care to all, although fears have been raised that that policy is becoming unsustainable. Wales and Northern Ireland are waiting to see what happens in England following the Dilnot conclusions.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    My mother suffered fro Parkinson's disease for ten years. The last two years before she died she was bedridden and had to have care in her own home where she wanted to be at a cost of over £40,000. She was assessed so many times for posible financial help and I am sure the local authority involved was procrastinating and just waiting for her to die.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.


    In the 21st century everybody deserves to die with dignity.
    Blimey, that's a bit drastic! Surely we can spare the youngsters?

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    @ Number 16... are you joking me? People who have worked hard all their lives pay exceptionally high care payments, whilst those who have never worked a day in their life, or squandered it all on alcohol receive the same level of care for free? That is fair in no society, as much as any Labour counter-propaganda tries to tell you it is.

    @29 - I guess you haven't seen the latest army cuts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    #37 - If they paid with their lives they wouldn't be needing care now would they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    now theres people saying that NI contributions arent enough what these old aged pentioners paid. I think they have paid a lot more then any of us will ever pay they paid with there lives and fought in 2 world wars and did they moan about it no they done what they had to do and now all we get is people moaning about how much it costs to take care of our old people. shame on yous

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    I think the government is starting to realise that there is a serious disinsentive to saving, especially for old age in this country. The proposals for a flat rate pension and a cap on social care costs will certainly help, but the government needs to be strong and make sure they are carried through.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Where's Superman when you him?
    Where's your champion when you need him?
    Probably busy as always!
    Do people forget what a peace offering is?
    Dwell on the champion & dwell on the peace offering!

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Chris#22. Your statement is making an assumption. People who worked during the 40's, 50's etc did not earn the money that people earn today. Many did save & it's now that they are having to sell their homes. What people need to understand is that what the Govt gets from weekly NI only pays for the following weeks state pension - this has been going on for years. Q's why NI reduced from 50p to 45p

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    @25. fraz3375
    "Let's have a look at carehome price fixing first.Why is it 30 grand a year,are they feeding the old folks on gold?"

    I agree BUT my Nan went in a council run cir home in the 70s when that was the norm. I was only a child but I still remember how horrific it was. In the 21st century everybody deserves to die with dignity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    National Insurance should have been ring fenced to pay for the insurance it was meant to finance. It has become part of the tax system and the public now need to buy further insurance to ensure they get NHS care and DSS cover. Ringfence the proceeds of NI and stop NHS and social care from being a political football.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    A 35% tax on the assets of the elderly doesn't seem right; particularly for those that have worked all their lives and contributed in taxes. Personally I'd like to see a low flat rate of tax applied to retirement pensions and free care! It's a national disgrace that pensioners are forced to sell homes for overpriced 'care'! Government already cashes in on inheritance taxes it's a double whammy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    At your most vulnerable due to illness your privacy/dignity is then stripped away, both by needing care and being means tested.

    I cared for my parents, but witnessed my mothers distress when the agencies wished to carryout means testing.

    Unless i took over the care my mother would have refused means tests and thus died uncared for, live privately, become ill and your life is a open book.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    There could be enough money to fund Council spending on social care and provide an improved service if we stopped fighting costly wars abroad, both in terms of money and lives, and stop interfering in the internal politics of other Countries which has nothing whatsoever to do with us!
    Mr Cameron et al need to be told 'Charity begins at home'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    what is it now? £700 a week to keep someone in care. the uk gov closed most of hospitals and pushed them out in to the community so they could sell the land for housing. ok in a bull market but now a nightmare in a bear market. the answer now is to go back to the old ways of state run hospitals, the land is cheap as chips now and will help in construction and providing jobs
    cheers m

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Cut benefits. Cut income tax. Increase tax on consumption.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    This is exactly like house of lords reform, banking reform and the eu referendum - none of them will happen any time soon, if ever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Let's have a look at carehome price fixing first.Why is it 30 grand a year,are they feeding the old folks on gold? And another thing,this lot are happy to spend billions on upgrading trident;what a set of priorities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    @16. Darren Shepperd

    You obviously are left leaning, I am right leaning and think that the BBC is Labour biased. Conclusion - it is probably about neutral

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    I'm afraid it is the usual scenario in the UK, the feckless and the workshy get it all for free and the worthy citizen is paying out for them and for themselves. It is a disgrace which can't go on and it is sad and very annoying. I am very glad I have emigrated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    If older people have followed all advice from governments they would have worked and saved hard to get what they have. They have to pay all their care if they own a house (i.e. sell their home). However those who spent all their money smoking, drinking, gambling and not saving much get everything free etc. Hardly seems fair... if one hasn't put much in to the system, one shouldn't get much out!!


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