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Friday, 07 July 2017

Care costs cap and asset threshold 'critical' to social care funding proposals

Written by Richard Wheeler and Lizzy Buchan

A cap on care costs and an asset threshold will be included in the Government's social care funding consultation, a health minister has said.

But Tory frontbencher Steve Brine stopped short of repeating his party's manifesto figures, which included a pledge to ensure a person's assets do not dip below £100,000 as a result of paying for care.

Mr Brine told the Commons a "capital floor and an absolute limit" on the amount people can be asked to pay are "absolutely critical two pillars that must go together".

A negative response to Tory manifesto plans to make pensioners pay for social care by selling their homes after they died led to the Queen's Speech only referencing a pledge to consult on "proposals to improve social care".

The £100,000 asset threshold was designed to replace a £72,000 cap on contributions, recommended by the Dilnot report.

Tory Peter Bone (Wellingborough) also criticised his party's social care election pledges, saying they were only labelled the "dementia tax" by Labour as the proposals were "stupid".

Speaking in the Commons, Conservative former minister Sir Desmond Swayne asked Mr Brine: "What is the status of what was the announced Government policy that the Dilnot cap will be implemented in the financial year 2021/22?"

Mr Brine replied: "So the Prime Minister has been very clear about the importance of tackling this issue.

"As she said, we look after two million more over-75s in the next 10 years - we have to find a sustainable way of caring for older people.

"We will consult on detailed proposals, which will include a capital floor and an absolute limit on the amount people can be asked to pay.

"Our objective is that consultation will be to get the widest possible consensus."

Tim Loughton (pictured), another Tory former minister, said the major asset for many of his elderly East Worthing and Shoreham constituents was their property.

He welcomed pledges for a "grown-up debate", asking: "Can you make sure ... any sustainable solution recognises that people who worked hard, paid their dues, looked after their families and done the right thing should be appreciated, not penalised for having done so."

Mr Brine replied: "I've said that we will consult on detailed proposals later this year.

"I've said that will include a capital floor and an absolute limit on the amount people can be asked to pay, and they're absolutely critical two pillars that must go together."

Mr Bone earlier told Mr Brine: "The only reason the Labour Party was able to mention 'dementia tax' was because the Conservative Party had put something stupid in their manifesto.

"This is far, far too important a matter for party politics.

"Will you agree with me the social care system is broken and we need a cross-party agreement of how to move forward?"

Mr Brine said a "cross-party, cross-country solution" was needed to the long-term funding of social care.

His remarks came after Liberal Democrat former care minister Norman Lamb said taxes should be increased to fund social care after a regulator uncovered failings that were "intolerable in a civilised society".

An urgent question was tabled in the Commons by Labour on the Care Quality Commission analysis which showed that one in four social care services was failing on safety.

The CQC reported examples of vulnerable people not getting enough to eat and drink, failing to be helped to the toilet in time and residents being dressed then put back to bed to ease the burden on staff.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Gareth Fuller / PA Wire.