4 Jul 2011

Social care costs ‘should be capped’

Social care costs should be capped so people do not lose their assets according to a new review. The Dilnot report has prompted a debate on how the government would pay for any changes to the system.

The Government is expected to welcome a 'cap' on care costs

Currently, elderly people receive council-funded home help and care home places if they own less than £23,250 in assets, the new report says that limit should be raised to around £100,000 to better reflect the rise in property value in the last 20 years.

The Dilnot Commission also recommends that a cap between £35,000 to £50,000 should be set on the total amount an elderly person should have to pay towards their care.

Andrew Dilnot said that capping individuals’ contributions would make it easier to offer insurance policies because it takes away the uncertainty.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who will outline the Government’s response to MPs this afternoon, said he expected to give a “very positive” reception to the Commission’s recommendations.

Mr Lansley said today’s report should trigger a wide debate, involving not only political parties but also representatives of old people and carers.

But Mr Lansley said he expected today’s report, which applies to England, to leave many issues open for debate – including how the cost of a cap, estimated at £2bn or more a year, will be funded.

Chancellor George Osborne is reported to be reluctant for the Treasury to pick up the tab for reform, which will have to come from taxation or spending cuts elsewhere in Whitehall.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband have both expressed their willingness to work together to gain a cross-party consensus on the issue.

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.”

Other recommendations from the Commission on the Future Funding of Care and Support are expected to include national standards to end the “postcode lottery” in care.