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 121.

    The core problem underlying this is us baby boomers reaching old age & the infirmity that all too often goes with it - whatever is done it only needs to be temporarily on this scale, as in a generation's time they'll be less old folk around needing care.

    Population bludges cause these problems wherever they occur.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    The Government managed to find both the political will + the money to bail out banks that had got themselves in a mess

    It's got the money to pay for that huge white elephant called Trident

    Yet for some reason they can't find either the money or the will to help provide care for some of the most vulnerable people in the country

    The Tory Party needs to look at it's priorities urgently

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    That video is making the situation look far better than it really is for most people. Someone getting care who is well enough to hoover? Around here, you can be bedbound, unable to get to the toilet, wash yourself or get food, and you're told, "Tough luck," or given a few hours a week that force you to choose between washing and eating - on the days that you even get any care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    the cap is welcome but this GOV will use it to set up the next GOV it they believe it will not be them. this is why they have ended the all party discussion in favour of their own decision to be made just before they potentially leave office. this will mean the in coming GOV will then change it and confuse everything stalling the whole process for longer

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    It is time the UK had a priority adjustment.

    We support sending out billions in foreign aid, and some support banker bail outs, and yet those same people refuse to pay to look after their own.

    Take the recent floods, if it had happened in a country such as Bangladesh they'd get billions in aid - our flood victims won't they'll be lucky if they get insurance payouts.

    Priorities need to change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    I was being ironic, misquoting Wittgenstein - death is not an even in life etc.My reason: to expose the subtext here- the invitation to discuss euthanasia.Note: being dead you'r not able to avoid anything,even a home
    I'd like euthanasia as an option.

    Isn't being dead an oxymoron?
    By dying you avoid the pain/pleasure of living?
    But don't push me on philosophy, I'm just learning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Qu: If the Bank of England can conjure up £50bn a month - why can't it fund care?

    The care question is about priorities.

    Bankers must have their multi-million salaries (sucked from the savings of the poor!) Yet care workers are not even worth the minimum wage!

    This needs fixing first!

    The bankers will district you by getting their press contact to print more stories about immigrants!

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    With NI, Income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, VAT, rates,stealth taxes etc it is surprising that anyone has any money left for their old age. If they do have any savings and need a care home those savings can disappear quickly. There seems little point in saving for old age as the government may get the lot. We seem to get less and less in return for all this tax we pay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    The cost will be huge because it will outstrip all current welfare+NHS bills,so it will be unaffordable. Average house price is about £200,000. So middle section of population between bottom 20% and bottom 70% will be affected, i think.Using my remembered stats about life in Britain.Top 30% will be big benefitters.Remember,life expectancy increases 10yrs for every £10,000 you earn pa.!

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    @77 surely you do not mean you would see your mother taken care of by strangers in a private company and lose her home, memories and personal/financial independence, rather than help her yourself - financially or logistically?

    Now 31, I have helped my own disabled mum ever since I was old enough, not necessarily out of choice, just duty. I'm sure you would do the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Maia, without this, you lose all the house, not just half, and you'll lose it when you're still alive. With the cap you can use equity release to keep the house until you die, and your children will at least still get half, rather than nothing at all.

    We shouldn't be playing politics with peoples lives, people don't deserve to be kicked out of their homes which they've worked for all their lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    It makes me so angry when people who have been careful, saved all their lives to pass on something to their children are robbed of their savings when the fackless, the drinkers, the smokers and travellers get everything for free. A disgrace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    We're getting sick of your & this governments lies Lansley,& as the saying go's
    fool me once shame on you,fool me twice shame on me

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    102. att

    Making blanket statements about immigrants is really not on. Many immigrants financially contribute fully to the country through their taxes. They also contribute to the running of the NHS etc.

    Perhaps you could focus your ire on getting the NHS etc to actually change the full cost to those who have no right to free-at-the-point-of-need services, like any other country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    103. ClaudeBalls

    Personally I'm not that bothered if other people get their social care for free and that I may have to pay for mine when the time comes.

    No such thing as free care. Either they're paying or you are.


    You know that I meant 'free to them' so stop being pedantic as it just makes you look pompous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    "Andy The Thinker
    The problem is caused by immigration. An immigrant arrives here, fhen his wife and children come and they all use NHS and other services. Thats where the money goes."

    Perhaps you could back that up with evidence and an objective assessment of the money that "goes" in this manner.

    By "bangers64" criteria you must be a "socialist"!

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    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
    @ I was being ironic, misquoting Wittgenstein - death is not an even in life etc.My reason: to expose the subtext here- the invitation to discuss euthanasia.Note: being dead you'r not able to avoid anything,even a home

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    This is totally unfair because it will cost the majority of the population,with an average-priced house,half their house,yet save the rich a fortune.The current small working population can't pay enough taxes to fund social care,so either we must pay or allow immigration of young workers to increase the tax base&grow economy.I support this option,but most people wd rather anything else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    100.Some Lingering Fog
    5 Minutes ago
    Personally I'm not that bothered if other people get their social care for free and that I may have to pay for mine when the time comes.

    No such thing as free care. Either they're paying or you are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    You were born here, fought for your country, went through the privations of World War Two... and you struggle in your old age.

    The problem is caused by immigration. An immigrant arrives here, fhen his wife and children come and they all use NHS and other services. Thats where the money goes.

    I love diversity but it has nothing to do with this economic reality. Immigration empties British coffers


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