The Bristol founder of a major provider of care for the elderly has attacked the government for not providing details as to how it will fund its reforms.
Ministers are expected to announce today that pensioners moving into nursing homes will be able to borrow money from the Government rather than having to sell their property to pay for care.
In essence, the plan means that care costs will be paid after death, with the costs being recouped from the sale of the person’s house.
The “pay when you die” scheme, to be introduced in 2015, is intended to stop up to 40,000 people each year being forced to sell their homes to pay for care.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley will publish the long-delayed social care White Paper today but confirm that key decisions on funding will be delayed until at least 2014.
Agreement has yet to be reached on how to pay for the reforms, leading Judith Tunnicliffe, the founder of Premier Homecare, to say: “The issue of social care reform has been debated in Parliament for the last 15 years but in that time no Government has been able to agree on changes. Despite today’s announcement, it still appears that the Government are stalling – announcing welcome reforms but refraining from divulging detail about funding until the next spending review in 2014.
“The need for care reform is critical not just because of our ageing population, but also because of a crisis in the financing of care provision at a local level.
“Social care cannot wait this long for reform. The country will find itself having to spend even more to dig its way out an even deeper crisis. This does not appear to be a responsible use of the country’s money.”
Department of Health guidance is that local authorities should be spending no more than 40% of their budget on residential and nursing care. Despite moves by Bristol City Council to get more elderly people cared for in their own homes, Bristol City Council’s commitment is 58%, meaning that there is a lower proportion spent on supporting people to live independently at home.
In December 2011, Bristol supported 6,737 older people. This is projected to increase by 16.5% to 7,735 by 2021.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the Health Secretary said: “Our plans will end the scandal of people being forced to sell their home to pay for their care. From 2015, everyone will be able to get a loan instead of having to sell their home while they are alive.”
But the Health Secretary adds: “I recognise that we can go further. We can enable people not to lose everything they have worked and saved for if they need care for several years. That is why we agree in principle that a limit on the amount that people pay themselves for the long-term care they receive would be the right way forward.”
In the article, Mr Lansley also pledges to end the “postcode lottery” which faces people needing care. “We will for the first time set out that people in need of care and support have minimum rights and standards that they can expect – wherever they live,” he says. “So an older person can move closer to their loved ones with greater confidence that their care will continue.”
But his plans have also been criticised by the likes of Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, who said: “There is an immediate crisis in social care which needs to be urgently addressed now.
“No-one would disagree that care should focus on an individual’s needs, but attempts to improve the quality of care are meaningless if there is no money for councils to provide these services.”
Meanwhile, Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK, said: “The proposals will not live up to ambition without the solid foundation of a fair and sustainable funding structure so we need the government to make it clear how reforms will be funded and set out a clear timetable.”