The Dilnot commission’s £1.7bn proposals to reform social care funding could prove too costly to implement in full, health secretary Andrew Lansley warned today.
In a statement to the House of Commons, he welcomed today’s report, which called on ministers to cap lifetime social care costs for individuals at £35,000, and said that the government would “take forward consideration of the commission’s recommendations as a priority”.
However, he warned that the cost of the reforms, which would be £1.7bn a year if introduced now, would need to be weighed against other priorities and that “trade-offs” would have to be made.
“In the current public spending environment, we have to consider carefully the additional costs to the taxpayer of the commission’s proposals against other funding priorities,” said Lansley.
He pointed out that the commission had produced a range of options for consideration and said the government could choose from among the less costly proposals put forward “to manage the system and its costs”.
This would involve going for a cap of £50,000 as opposed to £35,000 on individual care costs, which would reduce the bill for the reforms to £1.3bn.
Lansley also said that the government’s response to Dilnot would not be produced until next spring, in a White Paper, with legislation following “at the earliest opportunity”. The previous timetable was for the White Paper to be issued this year and legislation produced in 2012.
The White Paper will be preceded by a period of “engagement” with stakeholders and the Labour Party, based around the Dilnot proposals, and Lansley said any reform would need to meet six tests:-
• Promoting closer integration of health and social care.
• Promoting increased personalisation, choice and quality.
• Supporting greater prevention and early intervention.
• Promoting a viable insurance market for care and a more diverse and responsive care market.
• Achieving a consensus that additional resources for care should be targeted at capping costs for individuals.
• Ensuring a fair and appropriate method of financing the costs.
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