Ministers have been urged to find £1.7bn to implement plans unveiled today to overhaul the care funding system.
The commission on funding care and support, chaired by Andrew Dilnot, said: “Care costs should be capped and means testing reduced to improve the system’s fairness and sustainability.”
Key proposals include:
– Capping lifetime care costs at £35,000. This would cover care at home and in residential care, but not bed and board.
– Raising the means test threshold, below which people become eligible for state funded residential care, from £23,250 to £100,000.
– Introducing a national system of assessment and eligibility initially set at the substantial threshold.
– Retaining disability benefits paid to people with care needs but rebranding attendance allowance.
The commission believes the reforms would mean that no one would spend more than 30% of their assets on care compared with 90% now.
“The current system is confusing, unfair and unsustainable,” said Dilnot. “Under our proposed systems everybody who gets free support from the state now would continue to do so and everybody else would be better off.”
Speaking yesterday to the BBC the health secretary Andrew Lansley said the government welcomed the proposals and that they would form the basis for consultation. However, he said issues including the size of the cap on costs and the threshold for means testing would be up for debate.
Peter Hay, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said the social care sector now needed to maintain unity in the drive for reform. “Social care is a system worth the repair – it has the ability to change lives,” he said.
He added: “I don’t just want assurance that what waits for my old age is a guarantee of basic standards. I want to know that I will be supported and enabled to add quality to the gift of long life expectancy.”