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By Donia O'Loughlin | Published Jul 17, 2012

MPs warn that independence of advice key to care support

An all-party parliamentary group and the Association of British Insurers have said that it is critical that self-funders of long-term care needs are not only provided access to financial advice, but that this advice must be independent an impartial.

Chris Horlick, managing director of Partnership, a provider of specialist annuities for long-term care needs which is providing financial support to the parliamentary group, told FTAdviser that access to advice was the key proposal in a report from the group, which was officially launched at a reception in parliament last night (16 July).

The paper highlights Local Government Information Unit data which state that less than 7 per cent of self-funding citizens are accessing or receiving impartial care fees advice. It adds that the majority of people in need of long-term care support will be self-funders, meaning they have savings and assets above £23,250.

The report says: “The key to resolving this issue is receiving independent, expert and timely advice.”

The Association of British Insurers, which gave evidence to the group, said: “The future that we would like to see is where the consumer is aware of their care choices and makes it informed decisions about how to get the care they want.”

All authorities were agreed that the provision of specialist information and advice was vital, with most adding that maintaining the independence of advice services is of equal importance.

Earlier in the week, a progress report on the implementation of proposals from the Dilnot commission on social care reform was published.

The report set out several specific initiatives, but although it revealed government support for the principles of Dilnot, including promoting independent advice on care, it did not commit to how the recommendations, which are estimated to cost nearly £2bn, can be funded.

The long-delayed paper, which was released alongside the progress report and a draft bill on car and support, also confirmed that any key decisions on funding will be delayed until at least 2014.

However, the parliamentary group inquiry said it chose to focus on changes that can be made now to improve the care system and meet current funding challenges.

It has made four recommendations in total, including that local government and the NHS integrate services and budgets and that the government divert additional resources from NHS budgets to preventative care

The report said: “Taken together, we hope that our report and recommendations, based in evidence and presented on a cross party basis, will help the government, local authorities, the NHS and all those they work with to help improve care now and for the future.”

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