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Social care reform 18 months away, reports say

Overhaul of underfunded system delayed, likely to be released in June this year, Financial Times reports.

By Aimee Steen | Published May 01, 2012 | comments

Reform of the social care system is at least 18 months away, the Financial Times has reported, and no bill will be brought forward in parliament this year.

Problems with social care funding were highlighted last year in the Dilnot report, which estimated that proposed reforms, including a £35,000 cap on care fees, would cost the government £1.7bn pa.

Reports said ministers will be given “drafting authority” to prepare legislation and any law change unlikely to happen until at least late 2013.

A white paper on social care for the elderly and disabled was due in the spring but is now expected in June alongside a paper on the progress of cross-party talks, the FT said.

Jim Boyd, director of corporate affairs at long term care annuity provider Partnership, said the delay may prove detrimental.

“It implies that the government is very uncomfortable with how much information they have to to date about what the social care mechanism will look like,” he said. “We can’t afford to rush for decisions to be made.”

But, he added, social care funding has been put on the back burner in the past and then taken up to a decade to become a priority again.

“We really can’t afford a 10-year lapse,” Boyd said. “There is a willingness among the public to actually address the issue now. If it’s pushed back again it’s not clear to me that the appetite will be there.”

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