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 61.

    Yep ! I think I would advise everbody just to be feckless and splash the cash-seems to work well !

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    'Reform' of social care funding eh!
    I wonder if they mean the 'retard' of social care?
    I for one do not trust any government to work for the benefit of ordinary people when one Tory MP, who is a doctor, was told that she could only sit on a government committee on the changes in the NHS if she toad the party line!

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    48Bad Hair Bear
    Elderly care is expensive. Without substantial tax rises or dramatic falls in cost, it will never be free for all. The money needs to come from somewhere.
    We need to feed the old, pay their carers, and pay those who supply food etc. The old are parents of carers and the food suppliers, so shouldn't money come from the latter? The system's good as they make it - they're next.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    A friends mother is 86 she has never worked a single day in her life and has brought her very large family up on benefits. She now has dementia and receives daily nursing care in her council house. She will soon go into a care home and guess who's paying ! People will cotton on to this and just not bother working or contributing to society at all !

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    @bangers64 - thanks,I re-checked my figures,still get the same answer,icluding all the items you mentioned.Care should cost no more than 10k per year,the rest,as I say is profit -taking.Don't get me wrong,the owners need to make a living,but they are over-charging.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I have passed my biblical 'three score and ten' so I'm overdue for the chop. Having lived modestly and saved hard, my wife and I have savings so we won't cost you - if you are quick. The bankers etc have devalued our savings with interest far below inflation and so we are living off capital and will soon be below the means tested threshold. If I make 80 I will be laughing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    #48 If NI for the greedy rich had not been reduced as of late, HMRC had not been so cosy with large institutions, re amount of tax owed not being recouped because nothing was followed through properly. There had been proper legislation to stop bankers, auditors, stokebrokers etc placing money in Off-Shore accounts for themselves & their companies, then much would have been / be possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    I dont doubt that council budgets have been cut but there needs to be much higher scrutiny of what they are spending to ensure that money isnt being wasted on inefficient (often private) care homes.
    Councils have so little scrutiny on how efficiently they use money -they get away with either passing increased costs onto the taxpayer or simply saying 'we cant afford it' and cutting the service.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Under the welfare state, having money, being self reliant, & working for 40 years becomes the ultimate sin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    @49. Truth is, many elderly have their lives extended and prolonged often in severe discomfort, pain and mental anguish, simply because we 'can'. My grandfather has recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer, on top of alzheimers and respiratory disease. He is confused, in pain and being carted from hospital to home every other day. He has said himself, in lucid moments, death would be a mercy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    When mentally ill patients are told they are eligible for work, is it any wonder that some are taking their own lives.

    Now we get this! Privatisation and caps on social care! What about caps on bankers? What about preventing tax avoidance?

    Same old sadistic Tories - profit before people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    you need a bigger fag packet you have £150000
    this needs to cover:
    6 x wages
    Employers NI
    Building running costs
    Council tax
    Feeding and entertaining the patients
    Bedding and laundry
    Staff training, holiday cover etc
    All the things I have missed

    And finally, what is left is yours. assuming there is no loan or mortgage

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Ah, end the week with another HYS campaign. Today it is the BBC pro-euthanasia campaign under the guise of care for the elderly. Basically, there are too many elderly and they need to accept euthanasia and a dignified death in order to save the economy and planet from over population and worse. Cue, lots of anecdotes on how granny would have been so much happier being dead than in a home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Whilst I don't think it's fair that those who fritter away their money get free care whilst those who saved get naught towards the astronomical costs, it's just not feasible to say care should be free for all. Elderly care is expensive. Without substantial tax rises or dramatic falls in cost, it will never be free for all. The money needs to come from somewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Perhaps the UK could fund care for the elderly better if stopped fighting illegal, ludicrous and pointless foreign wars all the time !

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    a man put is ageing farther into a barrow. he was to wheel it to the hillside outside the village so he could die,is usefullness was over. on the way there he came across his young son,who asked what he was doing, his farther explained,the son nodded,and said,"i see, this is the way of things.therefore i would remind you, not to forget, to bring back the barrow"

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    before i go i will give you some facts, we now have over 20% of pop OAPs
    and 2,000 increase each week ( in the states its 10,000 ) but we have less than 20% under 20 year olds. who where or how can the uk gov get the money from? harry potter?
    cheers m

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    I have just done some fag -packet calculations-a home with 15 residents and 6 staff should cost at the most about 10 grand a year,including food,but not drugs/medication.So all the rest is just greedy profit taking,-these homes are run on greed,not compassion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I was not actually advocating euthanasia - honest

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    This is the sort of thing that I pay tax for... and consider this, those who have assets are the ones who've worked hard and made contributions to the public purse. A hopeful sign, that at long last a few politicians, at least, are beginning to think about their duty of care to citizens instead of their own self-interest.


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