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18.07.13

Councils to introduce ‘deferred payments’ scheme for care

No-one will have to sell their house in their lifetime to pay for social care, the Government has announced. The Department of Health has published details of how the care cap will be calculated, in response to the Dilnot review.

People will receive annual ‘care account’ statements to measure the amount the have paid towards care, to predict when someone will reach the cap or qualify for additional financial support.

A deferred payment scheme will be introduced, allowing local authorities to pay for residential care fees which recipients will repay from the sale of their estate upon their death. This loan will still accrue interest.

From 2016, care costs will be capped at £72,000 for elderly people assessed as having eligible needs. The cap is based on the total cost of meeting an individual’s care needs, so can also include contributions from the local authority. Sir Andrew Dilnot’s review had recommended a cap of around £35,000.

The means test threshold will rise from £23,250 to £118,000. The DH said that people with eligible needs before the state pension age will have a lower cap and those turning 18 with care needs will receive free care and support.

By 2026, 100,000 more people are expected to be receiving help with the costs of care.

For the first 12 weeks in residential care, no-one will be expected to use the value of their home to pay their fees. But people will have to pay a £12,000 contribution to daily living costs, including food and bills.

Care minister Norman Lamb said: “These reforms bring reassurance to millions of people by ending the existing unfair system so no one need face unlimited care costs or the prospect of selling their home in their lifetime.

“Now we are unveiling proposals for how the new system will operate and what it can do to help people plan and prepare for future care costs – and over the next three months we’ll be seeking people’s views on making it a reality.

“No one wants to face an unknown future. This overhaul of the way care is paid for gives people the certainty and peace of mind we all deserve.”

He added: “It’s not a panacea, it doesn’t solve every problem of the care system but achieving fairer funding and achieving a more rational system which creates incentives to save and also the ability for people to plan for their old age is incredibly important.”

But Michelle Mitchell, director general of Age UK, said: “It is crucial that the public understands what costs are included under the cap and what impact the proposals will have.

“With a cap set at £72,000 is it clear that only a relatively small percentage of older people will receive financial support as a result – namely those who have the greatest care needs for a considerable amount of time.

“It will also only apply to those who are assessed as eligible – so people may be surprised that even those with quite considerable care needs may not have access to the system.”

Shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: “Ministers are offering false reassurances that older people won't have to pay more than £72,000 or sell their homes to pay for the costs of care.

“More than £1.8bn has been cut from local council budgets for older people's social care since this government came to power. David Cameron has unleashed a funding crisis in social care. We must see immediate action to improve the care system.”

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