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Ministers cautious on Dilnot’s long-term care plan

Leaders across central and local Government are this morning digesting the implication of the Dilnot report into ongoing funding of long-term care.

Among the recommendations of the independent report by economist Andrew Dilnot, pictured, is a cap on the amount people have to contribute to their own care, and a large rise in the threshold under which people get funding help from their local authority, from £23,250 up to potentially £100,000.

A suggestion of £35,000 for the cap on individuals’ costs has been suggested, but ministers have to discuss this detail, they say.

Councils’ current solution to solving the funding problem has been to progressively restrict the categories of people to whom they offer help, with many now only helping those with “critical” needs.

Dilnot says that instead, there should be a ‘partnership’ between individuals and the state.

There will need to be more Treasury investment in his proposed system to make it work, with initial estimates of around £1.7bn a year, rising in the future as demographics change.

Under the Dilnot recommendations, local authorities will be able to make a loan at a preferential rate against the value of a property owned by someone entering a care home. Such loans would be redeemed on the sale of the property after the person dies.

Reaction so far has been polite and positive, but the Government is waiting to make an official response. Labour has said there needs to be cross-party consensus on the issue, and leader Ed Miliband, in a letter to David Cameron and Nick Clegg, said he is prepared to scrap his party’s previous policy on the issue to try to achieve something on which they could all agree.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley, told the BBC that there would be “a very positive response” to the report but added: “We are going to treat it as the basis for engagement. It is part of the overall questions that need to be answered.”

Care services minister Paul Burstow sounded a similarly cautious note, writing on the Liberal Democrat Voice website: “The Dilnot report will mark an important milestone on the road to reform, but there are other questions and more milestones to come.”
The Dilnot report applies only to England and Wales.


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