Monday 18 December 2017
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Funding overhaul for social care to be set out

Social care costs in England should be capped so people do not face losing their assets, a review is to say.

Council-funded home help and care home places for the elderly and adults with disabilities are currently only offered to those with under £23,250 of assets.

The independent Dilnot report, being published later, will say the threshold should rise to £100,000 and suggest a £35,000 cap on costs would be "fair".

But ministers have indicated the level of any cap will need to be discussed.

Insurance

Last year the coalition government asked economist Andrew Dilnot to look into how the system of funding social care in England could be changed amid concerns it was getting harder for people to get access to state support.

The ageing population and squeeze on councils budgets have led councils to impose stricter criteria on who can get help.

t means while 1.8m are getting state funding, another 1m-plus either have to pay for support themselves or go without.

Instead of this system, Mr Dilnot's commission will recommend a partnership between the state and individual whereby the high costs are covered by the government - one in 10 people aged over 65 faces care costs of more than £100,000 over their lifetime.

But the individual should be liable for the first tranche of care with a cap in costs set at between £25,000 and £50,000, the report will say. It will suggest £35,000 as the ideal figure.

The hope is that with the state paying for the high-cost cases, the insurance industry would be encouraged to develop polices which would cover any care costs below the cap.

'Positive response'

Means-testing should remain so that the poorest would not have to pay, the commission will recommend, but it will say the threshold should be raised for those going into residential care.

Mr Dilnot told BBC Breakfast the changes would cost the government around £1.7bn a year if they were implemented now but this figure could rise by 50% as the "baby boom" generation begin to retire.

The government money would come on top of the £14bn that is already spent by councils.

 

He said the money would have to be found by making cuts elsewhere or raising taxes and he said any tax rise "should be paid, at least in part, by those of retirement age".

Mr Dilnot said: "All three main parties want to get this sorted out. We had a Royal Commission 12 years ago and then a Green Paper. I think the public really wants to see this resolved."

At the moment, people with assets, including the value of their house, of over £23,250 pay for all their care.

The commission will say this should be increased to £100,000 to better reflect the rise in property value seen over the past 20 years.

The report will also call for an end to the ever-tightening restrictions being placed on access. Instead, it will say that there should be a national standard so everyone has the same access no matter where they live.

The Treasury is known to have doubts whether more money can be found in the current financial climate.

Speaking before the publication of the report, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said ministers were likely to give it a "positive response" and "treat it as the basis for engagement".

However, he said the level of any cap, how it would paid for and the threshold for means testing were among a "range of issues that need to be resolved".

Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK, said action was long overdue: "Social care is at crisis point. Vulnerable people are going without care and that means their conditions are worsening and they are ending up in hospital and costing the government more. We cannot go on as we are doing."

Age UK was one of 26 charities which wrote to the Sunday Telegraph calling for politicians to hold cross-party talks on the issue and "not let reform fall off the table for another generation".