Leonard Cheshire Disability has called for separate systems of adult care funding for disabled adults and those who develop care needs later in life.
The call aims to address the plight of disabled people who lack the money to pay for care because of limited opportunities to work or save and who are excluded from state support by high eligibility thresholds or charges.
But it sparked immediate criticism from Help the Aged, who said having two systems would discriminate against older people.
As part of its six-month public debate on the future funding of adult care, the Department of Health has asked whether the system should focus on people with lifelong impairments who faced higher care costs, and lower opportunities to work and save.
“Disabled people’s life chances are so different to people who enter the social care system for a few years,” John Knight, Leonard Cheshire’s assistant director told Community Care at last week’s NCAS conference. “We are twice as likely to live in poverty as a non-disabled person.”
His particular concern was disabled people with low to moderate care needs who needed social care to enable them to work but were currently excluded by eligibility criteria.
He said his proposed approach would not create a divide at age 65, but secure support for people who lacked assets, including older people.
However, Help the Aged’s head of public affairs, Kate Jopling, said the reality of having two systems would involve creating a divide at 65, adding: “When you try and unpick what makes a dividing line at 65 reasonable or not it very quickly falls apart. Having that divide whether in the funding system or the services themselves can lead to ageism.”
• Would you support two systems? Have your say at www.communitycare.co.uk/lcdebate
• For more on the adult care funding debate go to www.communitycare.co.uk/108248