Campaigners for the elderly say the eagerly-awaited announcement of a cap on social care costs could come as a “rude shock”, amid reports that the limit could be set at £75,000.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is widely expected to settle on £75,000 as the amount of money people will be expected to contribute to care costs before the government steps in.
The independent Dilnot Commission recommended a cap of between £35,000 and £50,000 in its review of the care system, but the Treasury is thought to have dismissed that on the grounds of cost.
The cap will be announced on Monday and could take effect as early as 2017.
Campaigners say £75,000 is too high and would mean many older people will have to sell their properties to pay for care.
Stephen Burke, director of United for All Ages, which has been calling for a lower cap, said: “When families realise what is being proposed, they will be in for a rude shock.
“The government is sneakily shifting the cost of care further and further onto older people and their families. The £75,000 cap is the dampest of damp squibs. It is a con of the worst sort.
“There are fairer and better alternatives. The government for example could have raised the capital threshold for paying for care to £200,000 or higher. The failure by this government to meet the care challenge means that the next government will have to sort this out to meet the care needs of our ageing population.”
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hunt said: “The debate has been focussed a lot on the level of the cap, but just having a cap means that pension companies and insurance companies will be able to offer products.
“That means we become probably one of the first countries in the world where people save for their social care just as they save for their pension. In many cases, it will just be an addition to your pension policy.”
The Department for Health says reports putting the cap at £60,000 to £75,000 are merely “speculation”.
A spokeswoman said: “We are determined to solve this decades old problem which leaves people selling their and spending their savings.
“We are clear that the Dilnot recommendations are the right way to cap the potentially huge costs of long term care, giving people the certainty they need to plan for their long term care needs. We will bring forward detailed proposals shortly.”