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Home > Regulation > UK Regulation

Questions remain following social care white paper

Progress report supports financial advice but lacks commitment on funding

By Aimee Steen | Published Jul 11, 2012 | comments

Release of the long-awaited white paper on social care reform has been met with mixed response from the industry.

The government today released a progress report on social care funding reform alongside a draft bill on care and support.

Progress has again been delayed due to no cross-party consensus being achieved, with little clarity on how the cost of care funding will be met.

Chris Horlick, managing director of care at Partnership, said he was pleased a specialist working group would be set up regarding provision of specialist financial advice but warned that uncertainties remain.

“When is it going to be set up?” he said. “When is it going to meet? A lot has been put off here.”

The progress report acknowledged that people need peace of mind for their future care fees and said its intention is to base a funding model on the recommendations of the Dilnot report “if a way to pay for this can be found”. This would mean implementing a lifetime cap on how much any individual would pay in care fees.

But Horlick said this means little in terms of what will actually happen,

“Accepting in principle is irrelevant because it doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “It doesn’t mean they have to implement it.”

A full funding review would be unlikely to happen until October 2013, he said, meaning that a new model is unlikely to be implemented until 2014.

The paper suggested a voluntary scheme where people could opt in to be protected by a cap on funding costs.

It did, however, commit to implementing universal deferred payments for those paying care fees, meaning the costs can be recovered from their estate after death.

Michael Kitts, partner for government and public sector, PwC said further clarity was needed.

“The issue of future funding has not been addressed,” he said. “There is still lots of uncertainty. For example, the level, and application of any cap on care costs; how residual costs beyond the cap are funded by local authorities and others, and the practical details of loan schemes, such as how local authorities can fund the cost of care, which will be an immediate requirement, pending the agreement of any loan.”

He added that local authorities cannot delay taking action until this becomes clear since the elderly population is due to grow so significantly in the next 20 years.

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