By Debbie le Quesne

Funding care: My worries at the latest government plan

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Last Thursday the Department of Health published yet another proposal on how to fund care for the elderly.

I confess I’ve been putting off doing this blog in the hope that I could over time understand more fully the government’s plans. Sadly that has not happened.

The original Dilnot plan – or should I say, the revised Dilnot plan, was complex enough – but this latest offering seems worse.

The Guardian noted that “relatives wishing to investigate the costs of a care home for a loved one will need expert guidance to explain how the funding will work.” Too true.

This latest initiative is essentially an insurance system for elderly care in England which promises to cap costs for one in eight poorer pensioners and cut bills for the wealthy by up to a fifth.

Postcode lotteries of how much care is delivered and for how much money will be swept away in 2016 and replaced by a national level of eligibility.

Individuals will pay into a government-backed “care account”.

We know the cost of care will be capped at the proposed £72,000. But this will only pay for someone’s care. It will not take into account the hidden “hotel costs” for bed and board, which could be another £15,000 a year.

Where is this shortfall of cash coming from?

Deferred payment has also been mentioned, so that settlement will come from the estate of the deceased. Essentially those needing care will also be able to borrow money from local councils at a nationally agreed interest rate to pay for the service but will have to pay it back when they die.

All we seem to be doing here is putting off the inevitable: The government seems to be saying the plan will stop people having to sell their homes to pay for care – but only while they’re alive. Outstanding care costs will still have to be met and I suspect for most, through the sale of property.

Given that local authorities are squeezed financially as much as the rest of us, how are they going to fund care ‘up front’?

Critics are already forecasting this system will be a field day for lawyers as disputes erupt between households and local authorities over the levels of care provided, the cost and whether someone has been properly assessed.


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