Investment plans shelved as ministers postpone care funding decision
Funding uncertainty puts care plans on hold
Landlords trying to provide homes for vulnerable people face three more years of financial uncertainty after the government refused to commit to new proposals to fund care.
As health secretary Andrew Lansley unveiled the long awaited care and support white paper on Wednesday, providers warned that they will delay the development of new supported housing schemes until the government provides more certainty over funding.
Mr Lansley said the government supports the principles outlined by respected economist Andrew Dilnot in his report last year, including capping the cost of care for individuals. But he would not commit to funding the proposals until the next spending review in 2013, meaning the cap would not come into effect until 2015 at the earliest.
Kevin Beirne, director of One Support, One Housing Group’s care and support arm, said: ‘This will have a knock-on effect in terms of bringing forward retirement development. While there’s still uncertainty [around funding arrangements] there’s inertia in the system, so we might put off bringing retirement property forward.’
Bruce Moore, chief executive of Hanover, called the white paper a ‘damp squib’.
‘The thing that is damaging is uncertainty,’ he said. ‘It’s holding back the potential to invest in and develop new services.’
The white paper also suggested the introduction of a deferred payment model, where councils will offer loans to individuals to pay for care which would be repaid after death. The paper comes in the same week an exclusive Inside Housing survey reveals support services for vulnerable people are being lost due to council cuts. The survey, carried out with Capita, shows 87 per cent of providers of housing-related services for vulnerable people have had their Supporting People funding from local authorities cut in the past 12 months.
In three quarters of cases, SP cuts have led to cuts in services, staff, or both, even though 31 per cent of the 167 respondents have seen demand rise more than 20 per cent. A second survey, by the Local Government Information Unit and Mears, showed that out of 113 councils, 75.9 per cent said current systems and processes would be insufficient ‘to manage our adult social care provision in the future’.
There were some positives in the white paper: it said NHS organisations will be expected to give ‘particular consideration’ to the development of housing for older and disabled people when releasing land.