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
    -1

    Comment number 81.

    as you get older you cost more but give less, if 8 = infinity it can be easily be shown as a formula (c is cash)

    -C==8

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 80.

    I am always furious when I read sweeping statements from the media of the sort "Scotland offers free care to all". It implies that our elderly are living in care homes for free. It is NOT true! In Scotland, nursing care is free. The expensive residential care portion is paid just the same as in England with the same means testing. In England, if you are disabled, you get free nursing care anyway.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 79.

    Just think what could have been done with the billions pumped into the financial sector.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 78.

    64.miklewal
    7 Minutes ago
    A cap of £35000 only really lets the wealthy avoid paying for their own care! Most normal people will just see their life savings used up as there is no way most of us can afford to save more than £35000. Just the Tories helping their rich chums again!

    Nonsense. £35k is around a packet of fags a week over a working lifetime.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 77.

    This post will not be popular! If a person can pay for their care, whether through savings or selling property, they should do so. Surely THEIR money/THEIR property should be for their benefit, not to be left to their children when they die? I would much rather my mother live in comfort with proper care than inherit a single penny from her.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 76.

    The cost of the UK's obsession with owner occupation and the extent to which property owners are de facto subsidised by the taxpayer is that people who are property wealthy are expected to cough up for their own care later in life. In exactly the same way that high earners are expected by everyone to pay more tax. If you want to change that then lets see an end to property subsidy and higher CGT.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 75.

    Lots of jabs at old people here. If it wasn't for the people who 85+ it wouldn't be the BBC running HYS, it would probably be the Reich Broadcasting Corporation.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 74.

    How many MPs have invested in private care homes?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 73.

    Public sector providers offer only advice & assessment no one wants to DO anythingThey are just contact point cum promotors for private sector providers.Thats all they have done in fathers dementia progress care at home, incontinency,chiropedy& now care home provision. Can you pay, can you pay. Thats always the first question for everything. We shall see what happens when the money runs out.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 72.

    @64 Absolute drivel

    My mums house cost £2000 in 72 and was bought by my step-dad who was only a watchman so not exactly rock star wages but its value today is significantly higher and as a result she will be forced to sell. If she is in that position then most are.
    Time to stow your blinkered socialist rhetoric I think

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 71.

    @51 Cyber Tantric

    I fear you may have misunderstood. This has nothing to do with profit or capping money given to the elderly and disabled, indeed quite the opposite. Anyone who has had to watch an elderly relative sell their home in order to fund their care in old age, when the less prudent get it on the state, will know this reform is long overdue.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 70.

    Guess who the losers are going to be yet again?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 69.

    58. Totally agree, these people already know, which is why they play the system, welfare needs to change. In germany benefits are for one yr only, no excuses, they take any job they can get to pay bills. None of this "dont want that job" My mother had to pay for all healthcare until money ran out. She had same health care as many who had NEVER worked. Dad had separate bank so he could eat etc

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 68.

    49ProfPhoenix

    Cue, lots of anecdotes on how granny would have been so much happier being dead than in a home.
    =
    No. You can't be happy if you're dead as you don't exist. But I think we can say granny could avoid a lot of misery by being dead, instead of rotting in a home.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 67.

    Current Govt policy - if you earn £1m over your lifetime and are stupid enough to save any of it we'll rip it off you to pay for your care even though you paid tax all your life. If you earn (or are doled out) £1m and blow it all we'll force the others to pick up your tab.

    Anyone see what's wrong with this picture?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 66.

    @fraz3375

    My cousin is an accountant who does the books for the home my gran is in.They are making a huge loss simply becos al but 2 of the residents were poor like my gran & didnt own a house.The council wil only pay so much a year & since the others cant pay anymore all 4 homes are deep in the black but they aren't allowed to go bust simply bcos the patients cant go anywhere else. Very sad

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 65.

    Dad worked & paid in 50 yrs,claimed no benefit.Carer for mother in wheelchair 4yr, no carer or attendance allowance I would just like to see a fair system. Now with dementia he faces £1000 a week in a care home.If the cash runs out before he dies, the authorities "downgrade" his care (they wont pay £1000 a week) Where does he go? Others get it all free because they blew their income having fun

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 64.

    A cap of £35000 only really lets the wealthy avoid paying for their own care! Most normal people will just see their life savings used up as there is no way most of us can afford to save more than £35000. Just the Tories helping their rich chums again!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 63.

    Anyone reading this may suddenly be in need of care: a spinal injury, MS or a host of other conditions can leave you young, willing to work and yet needing £50k/yr just to have a meaningful life. If the Govt do not cap costs and sort out where the money comes from, they are saying to all disabled people: be poor, for your whole life. Which is shameful. Think on that as you cheer the Paralympians.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 62.

    I believe it was Claat O'Bumber who once said "when the mighty oak doth willow and walt it shall not gain the same seed as the pine that lies in its shadow for the oak shall soon be dead and bares no use, for the oaks acorns shall no longer be seen and the earth shall be better for its passing"

 

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