The government has called on the social care sector to help win over a “lukewarm” public on care funding reform, amid growing jitters over how next week’s Dilnot commission report will be received.
Many people wrongly assume adult social care is free at the point of use like the NHS because most have little direct contact with the sector, care services minister Paul Burstow warned today at a King’s Fund event on social care reform.
He acknowledged the public would be at best “lukewarm” in their reaction to the Dilnot prescription that “all but the poorest will have to pay” for social care, and said he feared “a lot of people might be misled into thinking they are going to have to pay more” by inaccurate newspaper reporting.
Burstow referred to yesterday’s survey by housing and care provider Anchor, which found that 44% of Britons believed the state should fund all their care costs.
Calling on the sector to help combat “unhelpful” reports, he said: “Those of us who seek reform must be united in a common purpose because we must make sure people don’t look at Dilnot’s plans through rose-tinted glasses, comparing his plans with a fantasy, a fantasy of free care, because it does not exist.”
The year-long Dilnot commission, which will report on 4 July, is expected to propose that individuals should be responsible for up to £50,000 in care costs with the state paying anything over that amount.
Burstow said the government was still committed to publishing a White Paper on social care reform this year, which will be followed by legislation next year.
But it is thought that ministers are considering conducting a listening exercise or period of engagement with stakeholders after the Dilnot report is published, along similar lines to the “listening exercise” over its NHS reforms.
“If funding reform is to be secured during this parliament it will require give and take,” Burstow said today. “It will demand recognition of the times in which we are working and perhaps that the [public sector spending] deficit casts a long shadow.”
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