There has been much debate recently about plans to overhaul the funding of social care in this country. We believe the changes proposed in the Dilnot Report will offer hope to many elderly residents who fear having to sell their homes to pay for care.
The government-commissioned Dilnot Report recommends a number of changes to the current care system, including a £35,000 cap on individual liability for care costs. The report also proposes raising the means-tested threshold at which people have to pay for care from £23,250 to £100,000.
We welcome the proposals as the current system is unfair and confusing. It’s become a postcode lottery with the quality of care and funding you receive dependent on where you live.
If the proposals are adopted then it will be less likely that the elderly will lose their properties. We hope it will also encourage the insurance industry to develop policies to cover any care costs below the £35,000 cap. At the moment it’s impossible for anyone to plan to pay for their care because there are no financial products on the market that help you save to do this. So anything that provides more clarity and certainty should be welcomed.
But the report also raises the possibility of pensioners having to pay national insurance for the first time to fund the changes. This means that older people could bear the brunt of the taxation burden, which would be a case of giving with one hand and taking with the other.
It’s also important to note that the proposed £35,000 cap would not include care home accommodation and living costs which people will have to pay for. And there will still be limits on what cash-strapped councils will fund so if you want more choice in the care you receive you may have to pay more.
To conclude, something has to be done to reform the current system and meet the care needs of our ageing population. But questions remain as to how these changes will be paid for and who should foot the bill.
As the debate rumbles on there will be many families faced with covering the cost of care regardless. In some cases of severe infirmity, nursing care can be paid for out of the NHS Continuing Care budget which is not means tested, and claims can even be made retrospectively.