Wales politics

Care: Elderly mustn't lose savings - Wales commissioner

Old man's hands
Image caption A report has called for changes to social care costs in England

Wales' older people's commissioner says the elderly should not lose their savings to pay for their care.

Ruth Marks was speaking after a report said care costs in England should be capped so that people do not face losing large chunks of their assets.

She said older people were not well served by the current system of paying for care and that standards were not consistently high.

The Welsh Government said it had its own social services renewal programme.

The UK government asked economist Andrew Dilnot to look into how the system of funding social care in England could be changed because of concern it was becoming harder for people to get state support.

His report said elderly people and disabled adults should be offered council-funded home help and care home places if they have assets of less than £100,000 - up from the current £23,250. It said a £35,000 lifetime cap on costs would be fair.

In Wales, people are eligible for assistance if they have capital below of £22,500. Over this they fund all of their care costs themselves.

Ms Marks said: "This report is a serious and balanced look at a very pressing matter.

"Social care funding should be fair, and clear, so that people are able to plan for later life.

"Older people tell me that they do not want to lose a lifetime of assets simply because they need care and support. It is right that the funding mechanism supports those who most need it, but that people who have saved do not lose out."

A maximum charge of £50 a week is being introduced for people in Wales receiving council home care services.

Postcode lottery

Councils will be compensated for loss of income under a £10.1m Welsh Government scheme which to end a "postcode lottery" in the amount paid, it was announced in March.

But there were warnings at the time that the move could put councils under even greater financial pressure.

An independent commission last year said users should have more personalised services, with standard eligibility rules applied across Wales for who should receive them.

Published last November, the From Vision to Action report warned of "striking variations" in what people could expect in different parts of the country. It found the system of planning, commissioning, and delivering services across 22 local authorities was not sustainable.

A Welsh Government spokesman said it was up to Whitehall and the UK government to respond to the Dilnot report.

He said the Welsh Government had its own programme for renewal of social services and that First Minister Carwyn Jones had signalled an intention to bring forward a social services bill.

The Welsh Government's deputy social services minister, Gwenda Thomas, said: "This is an issue of vital importance for people in Wales, as well as the rest of the UK, and I would want to see a fair and sustainable system in place here.

"That is why we have already taken action in Wales to cap charging for social care - we have introduced a weekly maximum charge of £50 for non-residential care and I am delighted to see that people across Wales are now feeling the benefits of that change."

She said she was pleased the Dilnot Commission was following a "similarly pragmatic and straightforward approach" in its recommendations.

"Some aspects of the recommendations made could have implications for Wales and I will want to discuss these with UK Government as early as possible," Ms Thomas added.

More on this story