Enhanced annuities specialist Just Retirement has called on financial advisers to offer ‘free’ 30-minute advice sessions in an attempt to force changes to the long-term care bill and require individuals in need to care to be referred to a regulated financial adviser.
Under the existing proposals, councils will simply be forced to refer individuals for ‘advice’ that is independent of the local authority, including charities. Local and national government are thought to be concerned that those who do not need a costly full advice process could be pushed into it regardless if referrals to regulated advice are mandated in the legislation.
The rejection generated opprobrium in some quarters, with Janet Davies, managing director of Symponia, the national professional body for care fees planning advisers, saying: “To rebuke the holistic services offered by advisers working within the care fees planning arena just because there may be a charge is insulting.
“You can’t possibly put a price on safeguarding a lifetime’s worth of accumulated assets.”
Just Retirement said it is pushing for advice from ‘regulated’ financial advisers to be part of the Care Bill. It says an industry solution that would see individuals being initially offered a free consultation could mollify concerns over cost.
Optional universal deferred payment schemes allow local authorities to put a legal charge on property to release equity to pay for care without forcing a sale. The company said it does not think this should be a mandatory requirement but that if it was it would bolster the case for regulated advice referrals further.
Steve Lowe, group external affairs and customer insight director, told FTAdviser: “There should be a mandatory requirement to refer residents looking to finance their long-term care support to regulated advisers.
“We are calling upon the advice community, the government and the rest to come together and see what they can do to help this. Can they give 30 minutes free advice to see if people need full advice?
“Local authorities think that you can’t frog march everyone into advice. I believe most will benefit but maybe there is a way for the industry to help in this.”
Just Retirement said it would also want to see the Care Bill amended to ensure that people receive the same high quality advice standards when purchasing the governments universal deferred payment scheme as they now do when purchasing equity release solutions.