Government unveils plans for care 'transformation'
The government has unveiled its plans to reform social care in a move which health secretary Andrew Lansley called the ‘greatest transformation of the system since 1948’.
The social care white paper, which was published today, includes proposals to allow older people to defer paying for their care until after they die, so they don’t have to sell their homes while they are alive.
The plans will allow people to take out loans from local councils to pay for care, which will then be repaid after their death.
Mr Lansley also said the government supports recommendations made by economist Andrew Dilnot last year to cap the cost of care for individuals. But the level of the cap will not be decided until the next spending review, because the government said the ‘size of the structural deficit’ and ‘the economic situation’ meant the government was unable to commit to a new system immediately.
The white paper states the cap could be as high as £100,000.
‘We agree that the principles of the Dilnot recommendations – financial protection through capped costs and an extended means-test – would be the right basis for any new funding model,’ Mr Lansley said.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 today, Mr Dilnot said he would have liked the government to commit to introducing a cap immediately: ‘A deferred payment system is a good idea, but it would be a much better idea if individuals had certainty.’
He also said the cost of the system would be equivalent to ‘a thousandth of public spending’ and that he thought the issue was ‘at least that important’.
Andy Burnham, shadow health minister, criticised the lack of information about the cost of a fairer care system. ‘With no answers on the money this white paper fails the credibility test – it is half a plan,’ he told the House of Commons.
Earlier this week, Mr Lansley promised £200 million over the next five years for specialist housing for older and disabled people to ensure they can stay in their own homes.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘We’re pleased the white paper recognises that housing is crucial to the integration of health and social care, and welcome the investment to build more supported housing for older people and younger disabled adults.
‘We need a social care system that helps people live independently, access more personalised care and avoid more intensive and expensive stays in hospital or care homes. It should ensure those who need support can live in homes that are adapted to their needs.’
A draft Care and Support Bill, published alongside the white paper, will legislate for any changes.