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Home care cap would still leave elderly with huge bills

Middle class families will still have to pay up to 90 per cent of the cost of having a relation in a nursing home under plans to overhaul care backed by David Cameron, a leading Tory MP claims.Home care cap would still leave elderly with huge billsJohn Redwood broke ranks with his party leader to attack proposals by the economist Andrew Dilnot to cap the cost of care. He made his comments as it emerged that Mr Cameron has given his full support to the plans.

In a landmark report published last year Mr Dilnot called for a new system of funding which would mean that no one would have to pay more than around £35,000 for care in their lifetime.

But in a recent paper Mr Redwood questions whether it is “morally right” to use taxpayers’ money to fund a cap, claiming it would only serve to benefit well off families who want to protect their inheritance.

He also argues that the £35,000 cap is misleading and would not provide the level of protection which people think it would.

In a paper for the think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies, he insists that people could still face huge bills for care because much of the money they spend would not count towards the cap.

The Dilnot report makes clear the cap would only apply to care costs- so excluding the bills families would pay for their loved one’s accommodation. But it would also depend on assessments made by local councils of how much someone’s care should cost.

If people want to go to a care home which charges more than the amount the council approves, they would have to make up the difference themselves – as is the case at present.

However, under the Dilnot proposals, the extra money would not count towards the cap. In theory, it means that people could spend far more than £35,000 before the cap takes effect.

In some parts of the country, particularly southern England, many care homes already charge more than the local council is prepared to pay, meaning that even residents who get their fees paid by the state still have to top it up.

Using a model designed by Partnership, an insurer, Mr Redwood argues that families could end up paying 90 per cent of the costs themselves over four years, even under a capped system.

At present councils pay around £461 a week, including accommodation, for people who qualify for residential care. But in southern England weekly fees average at £817 a week, or £42,500 a year, Mr Redwood says.

He calculates that only £271 a week paid by the resident would count toward the cap.

That would mean it would take two and a half years before they are judged to have spent £35,000, by which time they would have racked up bills of £105,500.

Even then the resident would only get their care costs paid up to the level set by the council, he adds. Over four years the resident would still have had to pay £149,000 even with a cap, compared with £170,000 without a cap.

“It is a cap but it is not the size of cap people thought it was,” said Mr Redwood.

“I don’t feel I’m a heretic, I just feel it is important that we have an informed debate.  I think a lot of people who support Dilnot haven’t actually read the proposals and don’t understand the location of the cap.”

In his paper Mr Redwood argues that families should be prepared to use the value of loved-ones’ homes to fund their care and claims that most people do not actually need to inherit their parents’ home.

“The only real reason the children want to inherit is they would like to have more money,” he says.  “That is an understandable wish, but not necessarily one that should be fulfilled at the expense of the taxpayer.”

Michelle Mitchell, director of Age UK, said: “Social care is a highly complicated issue and so trying to find a solution which scores 10 out of 10 for everyone involved is probably impossible.

From:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Care-cap-would-still-leave-elderly-with-huge-bills-John-Redwood

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