Jackie Porter

Liberal Democrat Councillor and Prospective MP for Winchester and Chandler's Ford Learn more

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Conservative proposal does not work for care-this describes why not

by Jackie Porter on 7 June, 2017

Thanks to Gillian Douglass for the clearest description of the need for a care costs cap that I have seen…

Social care is any extra help that a person needs with day to day living. It might be getting out and about, maintaining relationships, preparing meals, washing, paying bills or cleaning and maintaining the house. Anything that does not require really specialised knowlege but is, nonetheless, essential for a person’s wellbeing. Infants, small children and those with disabilities often need social care. Most adults can manage well into their old age by hiring someone like a gardener or a cleaner except if they have a medical condition such arthritis, Parkinson’s or dementia. Even then, most people can pay for their care themselves or claim attendance allowance to help them to do so. The problem comes in when their care reaches such a level that this benefit does not cover the cost of their care and they have depleted their savings.

Currently, the local authority will help towards the cost of a person’s care – or even organise the care – if the person’s savings have depleted to £23,250. This does not currently include the value of the person’s house if they own it.

If the person needs to go into a care home or other form of residential care, they are currently expected to fund their own care by selling their house and will only be eligible for support from the local authority when their savings have depleted to £23,250.

The problem that Theresa May has had is that the Conservatives have tried to level the playing field by saying that the value of the person’s home should taken into consideration regardless of whether they have care in the home or in a residential setting.

This means that a person with a home worth £500,000 will need to pay for their care for many years before receiving any public assistance.

To top it off, the Tories did not agree to the £72,000 cap proposed by the Liberal Democrats in government so Theresa May was left holding the bag as many people realised that their life savings may go on care and that they may only be able to pass on minimal savings to their children and grandchildren.

On BBC Question Time last night, Mrs. May committed that people would “not have to sell their homes in their lifetime” but this is rather a big promise and one which I, for one, do not believe she can keep.

By contrast, the Lib Dems have agreed to the cap (recommended by Dilnot) and committed to integrated health and social care.

This would mean that there would be fewer problems between the NHS and the local authority trying to determine which is liable to fund certain areas, like giving medication for example. The cap would also ensure that people who have a substantial investment in their home will be able to pass on some of their accumulated wealth to their loved ones.

It is an idea that the Conservatives refused to implement when in coalition with the Liberal Democrats but one which Theresa May and the Conservatives will now have to take a better look at. The Prime Minister has committed to a consultation to determine the proper level for a cap but it took a relaunch of the Conservative manifesto to add this provision.

And the Conservative proposal just won’t work in practice, because home care is often followed by care in a home- what happens then?

The state will end up paying then. Mrs May can’t make policy on the hoof without accepting the reasoning of evidence. It will come back to bite her-and probably all of us- in the end.

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