The coalition government have today refused to fully commit themselves to a cap on care costs as recommended in last year’s Dilnot report. Instead, they unveiled new care funding ideas including a higher £75,000 cap, or asking those needing care to pay a fee to opt-in to the new system – if individuals don’t pay an upfront fee then they would pay unlimited costs.

This is expected to delay the final decision for a further two years. It seems clear to me that the current system is struggling to cope and treatment of vulnerable people is inconsistent based upon where they live in England.

At present each of the 152 councils in England can set its own eligibility criteria for care for the elderly and disabled.

Some areas had already introduced loans to assist and avoid the need to sell the individual’s property. Today’s announcement proposes to extend this facility across all councils for those who face the largest costs so that they will also be able to defer payment for care until after their death. This loan scheme, would mean those who need to go into care homes and who are not entitled to state funding (where their investments and other assets total more than a set limit), will have their care fees paid, but subsequently recovered from their estate on death. “Moderate interest” would accumulate on the loan.

I welcome reforms that create a consistent and fair system for all. We are based in Caterham, Surrey and the rules are different whether you fall under Croydon Council or Tandridge. Areas like Kenley or Warlingham/Hamsey Green can have different rules for long-term care on each side of a road! We are also only a stone’s throw from Bromley who have a third set of rules for domiciliary and residential care.

It is concerning for me that today’s announcement simply delays addressing potential solutions to the care funding issue proposed by the Dilnot report. Adopting his proposals could provide swifter action, and more protection for vulnerable individuals.

If you are affected by these issues and want to discuss planning for you or a loved one, and whether you need immediate advice or longer term concerns, please contact Steve Trinder.

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