The Government has been criticised for considering plans to prevent homeowners from deferring their care costs until after their death if they hold over £23,250 in other assets while alive.
Lord Howe said the Government is open to radically raising the amount of cash people can have in the bank before they are barred from a scheme aimed at preventing older people having to sell their property to fund care costs.
He said ministers are ‘happy’ to consider a variety of thresholds, including a figure of £118,000 forwarded by care specialist Lord Lipsey.
The Labour peer sparked controversy after he exposed the £23,250 ceiling in the House of Lords a fortnight ago.
Lord Lipsey, who sat on the 1999 Royal Commission on long-term care for older people, said the figure had been brought in through the ‘back door’.
During the third reading debate on the Care Bill, Lord Lipsey told peers £23,250 had been chosen as it was threshold up to which people now got assistance with their care costs.
But under the Government’s care proposals that sum would rise to £118,000 in 2016, the peer said.
Lord Lipsey said this would immediately deal with the difficulty of middle income people who have worked hard throughout their lives, while excluding from it wealthy people who don’t need it.
‘Job done,’ he added.
Lord Howe claimed the threshold of £118,000 for means-tested assistance, which would be launched in April 2016, included the worth of a person’s property.
He told peers: ‘This determines when an individual may be eligible for local authority support with their care costs.’
Lord Howe added: ‘We are happy to consider using a threshold of £118,000 as we analyse the consultation responses.’
The planned £23,250 threshold in liquid assets would exclude only the wealthiest 15% of people entering care, while raising it to £118,000 would exclude only the wealthiest 5%, he claimed.