Government branded ‘extraordinarily complacent’ over elderly care cap delay
The social care crisis can never be tackled while the government delay implementing the Dilnot care cap, peers warned yesterday in a House of Lord debate.
Lord Hunt of King’s Heath, a Labour peer, said that the postponement of the cap, which is designed to make care for elderly people more affordable, until at least 2020 was in practice “probably forever”.
He accused the government of being “extraordinarily complacent” over the growing cost of social care.
Lord Prior, under-secretary to the Department of Health, replied that the government were still committed to implementing the cap in the long term but had to make “tough choices” to balance public sector finances, and had allowed councils to raise a social care precept on council tax to help combat the crisis.
However Viscount Younger of Leckie, a former government minister, admitted recently that the precept will leave councils worse off.
The debate came after a Radio 4 FoI request found that approximately 5,000 care homes are in danger of closure because of debt, with homes borrowing 61% of the value of their business on average.
Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, said: “What we’re actually finding is we are in that very difficult situation where responsible providers are going to think to themselves, 'I can't do this very well, I may as well come out of it' and I think that's the worry that we have.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said “no-one will be left without care if a home closes”, adding that the department monitors care homes to provide early warnings of likely insolvencies.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oates asked Lord Prior if the growing problems facing the care sector were linked to the introduction of the National Living Wage, echoing concerns previously raised by the LGA.
Lord Prior replied that the living wage would benefit up to 900,000 social care workers and that the increase did not “seem a small fortune”.
He added that domiciliary care was becoming more important than residential care, saying that in the past two years 2,000 residential care beds had been lost but 600 domiciliary care centres had opened.
Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.