Academics and charities say benefit claimants may lose out if additional social care is funded by transferring money from the attendance allowance (AA) .
The government has ruled out increasing overall public spending to pay for its green paper proposal to fund up to one-third of the personal care costs of those eligible, bringing many self-funders into the system.
The green paper says the government may integrate “some elements of disability benefits, for example attendance allowance”, to find the extra funding.
But economic modelling carried out for the green paper involves the transfer of all existing AA funding in England to the social care system.
The Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University, which published research on the impact of transferring AA into the social care system last year, said it found that the benefit was used mainly to pay for the extra costs of living with disability, not care. Transferring the funding could lead to increased deprivation, it said.
Jill Manthorpe, director of the social care workforce research unit at King’s College London, said some people who received attendance allowance but were not eligible for social care could lose out from a funding shift.
She added that there were significant advantages to attendance allowance, which could also be lost. “It has fair and transparent criteria,” she said. “It’s claimed by rich and poor alike. It’s incredibly cheap to administer. We forget these things once they’re gone.”
Michelle Mitchell, charity director for Age Concern and Help the Aged, said: “AA can provide that extra bit of help which may help prevent or delay the need for more formal care.”
Counsel and Care chief executive Stephen Burke said hostility to the plan could derail the wider green paper reforms. “We may see instead a massive rearguard action to defend this benefit which is very popular with older and disabled people.”
Attendance allowance: who benefits?
● Attendance allowance is a non-means tested benefit paid to over 65s.
● The higher rate of £70.35 is available to people who need frequent personal care or supervision during day and night.
● The lower rate of £47.10 a week is available to those who need care or supervision during the night only.
● In November 2008, 1.58m people in the UK claimed attendance allowance. During 2007-8, 1.22m older pople received a social care service in England.
Sources: DWP and NHS Information Centre