The Government’s policy on long-term care has been critcized by a Labour peer.
Lord Lipsey said a scheme that was meant to reduce the impact of social care costs for older people has had its ‘balls cut off’, the Guardian reported.
He spoke out earlier this week in a House of Lords debate on the care bill after a Government consultation suggested people with assets of more than £23,250, on top of the value of their main home, would be excluded from the scheme.
Lord Lipsey, who sat on the royal commission on long-term care chaired by Professor Sir Stewart Sutherland in 1999, said: ‘The original scheme put forward by Dilnot has had its balls cut off by the Government in the consultation document. If you have more than that, you have to spend down until you have £23,250 left in the bank or wherever it is, and then you can consider a deferred payment scheme.’
Those who the measure is most likely to appeal to, with reasonably valuable houses, will probably have considerably more than £23,250 worth of other assets, he continued.
And the majority of them will be displeased about the prospect of having to ‘spend down until they have only £23,250 left in the bank before they can get any help from the deferred payment scheme’, he added.
Lord Lipsey said of the figure: ‘That hardly pays for a daily delivery of the Racing Post for the rest of their lives, their nightly gin and tonic, or more important things, such as the literature they want to read or all the things that make their life fuller.
‘For those people, a deferred payment scheme is simply not available.’
‘Failing to live up to rhetoric’
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director for Age UK said: ‘Lord Lipsey is right to point out that many people will be surprised and disappointed that the way Government proposes to implement the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations may not provide the level of protection they expect. If older people have to exhaust their savings before they are eligible for a deferred payment, they may well feel reality is failing to live up to rhetoric.
‘This demonstrates how Dilnot’s vision of a fair and humane social care system is at real risk of failing to be realised because of insufficient funding.’
However, social care minister Norman Lamb rejected the claim that the Government has changed tack on the scheme.
Elements of a second commission on long-term care chaired by the Oxford economist Andrew Dilnot are being implemented as part of the care bill.
The Government has amended the key recommendation in the Dilnot report that a cap of between £23,000 and £50,000 – with a suggested figure of £35,000 – should be placed on the costs of long-term care.
The Government set the cap at £72,000, on the grounds that a lower figure would be too costly.
The idea of a universal deferred payment scheme to reduce the number of older people forced to sell their homes to pay for care was also recommended by Dilmot.
Under the scheme, councils would pay the costs and recoup them once the house was sold, usually after the person in care had died.