The Dilnot commission on adult care funding has been told to end the postcode lottery by proposing a national eligibility threshold for support.
The idea of national criteria and guidelines on assessment and eligibility – reducing local authorities’ discretion in this area – won strong support in responses to a call for evidence from the Commission on Funding of Care and Support.
Commission chair Andrew Dilnot said: “There will be no ‘easy answers’ but it is clear that people want a simplified system with greater clarity so they can plan and prepare for their future care needs.”
There were also calls for more resources to tackle unmet need, closer integration between health and social care, information and support to help people plan for their care needs and better recognition of the contribution of carers.
There was also strong support for the provision of free personal care to all those eligible, funded from taxation or social insurance.
However, the commission has already ruled this solution out in favour of a system in which both state and individuals contribute to the costs of care, on the basis that the latter will be more sustainable.
The commission found support for the financial services industry playing a role in supporting people to fund their care, however respondents pointed to difficulties in getting enough people to enrol in products in order to pool risk and reduce costs.
The commission has strongly hinted that it opposes a compulsory system of care insurance; however, it found support among respondents for compelling people to take up insurance or automatically enrolling them in products, in order to help develop the market.
This reflects strong opposition in the sector to voluntary insurance schemes, as revealed in a Local Government Association debate on the future of care funding last month. Former Lib Dem shadow health secretary Norman Lamb, a political adviser to Nick Clegg, has also voiced his opposition to a voluntary approach, warning that insufficient numbers of people would enrol.
However, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, admitted it would have to revise its preference for a compulsory option. In previous times and under different economic assumptions, we favoured a compulsory model,” incoming president Peter Hay told the association’s annual spring seminar this week. “We accept within this changed context we will need to look at fresh proposals.”
Respondents from the private insurance industry also called for government support to develop the market in insurance products, for instance by backing specific schemes, such as equity release, or ‘kitemarking’ financial products.
The commission is due to publish its final report in July, which will shape a White Paper on care funding this autumn and legislation next year.
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