Elderly care proposals welcome if confusing says LGA chief Cockell
Local Government Association (LGA) has welcomed Jeremy Hunt’s proposals for care of the elderly insofar as they can understand them.
In an exclusive video interview with The Information Daily, Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association and Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, has given a cautious welcome to proposals by Jeremy Hunt the Health Secretary for changes in the way care of the elderly is funded.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the "scandal" of many people selling homes to pay care bills must be tackled. Today, he launches proposals for a radical shake up of the way we fund the care of the elderly. Labour thinks his new proposals won't do the trick. Commentators and analysts are confused by the detail.
Sir Merrick Cockell Chairman of the Local Government Association, whose members will be responsible for implementing many of the proposed changes, welcomes the plan but says the details are so confusing it will be difficult for the people most affected to understand their position.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced what the Government calls a “fully funded” plan for social care of the elderly. “Fully funded” means the Government thinks it can prove where the money to make the changes is coming from.
The measures, say the Government, will mean that elderly house owners in need of care will not have to sell their houses to fund their own care. It is unclear how this will be achieved. In fact the detail of the plan is so complex and confusing that commentators and analysts have struggled to explain the proposals.
The amount that the elderly will have to pay towards their CARE COSTS is to be capped at £75,000. After that amount has been reached the state will step in and pick up the care bill. But the cap and the offer of state intervention in costs does not apply to the so called “hotel costs”, food , accommodation etc.
People in care will still have to pay for accommodation and food which, according to the BBC, averages about £7,000-£10,000 a year. Some commentators say that “hotel costs” will be capped at £12,500 a year under Mr Hunt's plan. However, others say that if, for example, the individual chooses a luxurious care home where the hotel costs are high the £12,500 cap will not be invoked.
It is also proposed that if the person has assets worth less than £123,000 (the price of a small, one bedroom flat in Birmingham) they will not have to contribute to their care costs at all. This threshold has gone up by very nearly £100,000 from £23,250. However, it is not clear if the person will still have to pay the hotel costs if their assets are below £123,000 and if they choose an unacceptably costly care home or indeed if they choose a care home package with the most basic amenities.
Some Government spokespersons have suggested that the new “certainty” about what it will cost us to get old and die in reasonable comfort will encourage us to spend more while we are alive rather than dying with an untouched big fat financial cushion we had set aside in case we lived forever.
The release of this capital, it is suggested, will help kickstart the economy. These suggestions beg the questions, what certainty? What cushion? Who has this money? and where are the figures to support this wonderful fantasy?
Should they be approved these proposed changes will not come into effect until 2019 “at the earliest”. Only the very rich or very foolish would bet on what the changes will look like by then and neither of these two categories will care though for different reasons.
Dot Gibson, General Secretary of the National Pensioners Convention said the proposals "simply tinker at the edges" and that a £75,000 cap "will help just 10% of those needing care, whilst the majority will be left to struggle on with a third-rate service".
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the economist Andrew Dilnot, whose chaired a review into the future of social care and whose main recommendations on such details as the level at which the cap is set have been ignored, struggled to explain the detail of the proposals which he said were “not perfect”. Perfect or not he thought the Minister’s proposals a huge improvement on the current system which he said was a “complete disaster”.
Dilnot expressed the hope that the new proposals would "radically reduce" the anxieties many people have over how they will cope in their old age. He did not, however, say if he thought these new proposals would do the trick.