In his Government-commissioned report earlier this year, Andrew Dilnot proposed that the Government should cover any costs for long-term care above £35,000. Ministers including Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who appointed Mr Dilnot to carry out the review of funding for care of the elderly, are considering the proposals, which would cost an extra £1.7 billion a year.
Speaking at Age UK's 'Decision time for care reform' event in London this week where over 100 care specialists and older people gathered to debate the changes Andrew Dilnot expressed the fear that ministers might consider the scheme too costly and urged campaigners to hold Prime Minister David Cameron to account to ensure that the Government does not use current economic difficulties as an excuse not to act on the issue.
The average annual cost of a place in a residential home in England is now more than £26,000, and an estimated 20,000 people each year have to sell their home to pay for their care in older age. Mr Dilnot warned that millions of older people could be left facing unlimited bills for their care in old age if his reforms are not adopted.
He insisted that his proposals are not 'dead', but added: 'There is a problem. There is inertia because the public finances are not in a good way. If we had got this out 10 years ago, there would not be a discussion about public funding. We have got a much steeper hill to climb.'
Charing the conference, Michelle Mitchell, Age UK's Charity Director said: 'The escalating care crisis shames our country and shames the politicians who allow it to continue and we cannot afford to hold off on reform any longer.
'We appreciate that this is a less than ideal economic environment in which to be arguing for better care funding but the government needs to realise that the social and political consequences of inaction are huge. The costs of securing a future care system that is fair and sustainable are eminently affordable, if properly planned, and allowing the current crumbling system to stagger on will be catastrophic.
'The Dilnot Commission report was welcomed across all the main political parties and the government needs to seize this consensus to secure reform to both the legal structure and funding of the care system in its promised White Paper.Michelle Mitchell continued: 'All those who care about the future of our country’s care system must make sure that their voice is heard. Too often the fear and injustices of poor social care remain behind closed doors – we need to speak out and demand courage and vision from the government.'