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08.11.13

Councils wants national deferred payment scheme for care

A coalition of local government groups is urging the government to implement a national care loans scheme to help people meet the cost of social care in their old age.

In a joint submission to the government, the Local Government Association (LGA), the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) warned that the reforms set out in the care bill risk “failing a generation” unless they are properly paid for.

The financial risk for such loans, where people are allowed to borrow against their estate, should be underwritten nationally, they said.

The submission calls for clarity from the government on how daily living costs, including accommodation (which will not be covered by the care costs cap), will be met by those unable to pay. Councils warned that their budgets would not be able to meet that shortfall.

A campaign should also be launched to improve public awareness around the need to save, and a new national body created to underwrite the deferred payment scheme. More direction on how the £3.8bn Integration Transformation Fund for social care will be allocated to councils in 2015.

LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said: “Deferred payment schemes can offer peace of mind to people worried about how they are going to pay for care in old age. This is an option which councils would like to be able to offer to as many people as possible, but we have limited funds that restrict us from doing so.

“We suggest that government considers an option for a separate national organisation, similar to the Student Loans Company, to run the deferred payment scheme on behalf of councils.

“This needs to be part of a huge overhaul of the system that brings care up to a standard fit for the 21st century and ensures that our increasingly ageing population can lead happy, healthy independent lives long into their old age.

“Significant cuts to council funding, and a rapidly growing ageing population, have taken a toll and the quality of care which people are receiving has been compromised as a result. Councils have worked very hard to protect social care services from the full impact of cuts.

“However, the shortage of funding is being exacerbated by increasing demand and councils need an extra £400m each year just to maintain services at current levels. To substantially raise the standard of care on a nationwide basis, more money needs to be put into the system.”

Joanna Killian, chair of Solace, said: “We share the Government's passion for a modern social care system which has wellbeing at its core and would like to commend the Government for the open and collaborative approach it has taken to developing these reforms with councils. These reforms represent the largest transformation of social care in a generation and we all share the desire to make them a success.

“It is for this reason we echo our colleagues financial concerns. Councils up and down the country are working hard to transform the way that they deliver care and support. However, there is only so far we can go in the face of up to 40% budgets cuts since 2010. If our joint aspiration for world-class care is to be realised these reforms must be adequately funded. This applies to future liabilities as well as to the up-front costs of change.

“We also remain convinced of the need for wider reform of the health and social care system. We need a system which provides joined up health and social care support designed to promote people's wellbeing, enable them to be active members of their community and to maintain their independence where possible. These reforms are a welcome first step on this journey and we encourage government to continue its strong partnership with the local government sector as we all work towards a health and care system fit for the 21st century.”

Sandie Keene, president of the ADASS, said: “Funding is of paramount importance in ensuring that older people's wellbeing, safety and security lie at the heart of a modern, integrated and effective social care system.

“The proposals we put forward today alongside colleague associations will help towards that end although they are not ends in themselves, and must not be thought to be so. Adequate funding for sustained and ongoing training, for example, is still required for us to be able to ratchet up the quality of care we are able to commission and the overall quality of the experience people who use our services can come to expect. It is already high, according to DH surveys. But people have every right to expect that it will get higher.

“The search for a means by which people can unlock some of the equity in their own houses usefully and easily, in a benign financial climate, is important, and one which has been very much helped by these proposals. ADASS commends them to government.”

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