Dilnot report proposals and first reactions

4th July 2011

The key recommendations include the following –

Individuals' lifetime contributions towards their social care costs – which are currently potentially unlimited – should be capped. After the cap is reached, individuals would be eligible for full state support. This cap should be between £25,000 and £50,000. We consider that £35,000 is the most appropriate and fair figure.

The means-tested threshold, above which people are liable for their full care costs, should be increased from £23,250 to £100,000.

National eligibility criteria and portable assessments should be introduced to ensure greater consistency.

All those who enter adulthood with a care and support need should be eligible for free state support immediately rather than being subjected to a means test.

Trade magazine Professional Pensions has a full list of recommendations here.

This morning the Commission was playing hardball with the Government. 

The Guardian reports commission member Dame Jo Williams as saying: "It's time for action. It seems to us that people have already waited for change far too long and want more than talk now." The paper adds that Williams said, if ministers kicked it into the long grass, the commission would certainly be disappointed. "But 'disappointment' is not an adequate word; 'disgusted' comes to mind. But 'disgusted of the Dilnot commission', we hope not to be."

Downing Street played down suggestions that the report was dead in the water or due to be kicked into the long grass.  

As the Guardian reports a Number 10 Official said: "The Prime Minister welcomes the report. This whole area is complex, as well as multifaceted. Certainly, the whole funding issue is not something that can be looked at in isolation. We have always said there is a price tag, but we are not going to back away from the issue."

Mark Easton, the BBC home affairs editor, quotes JFK in relation to the challenge facing the UK's politicians in his blog here.

"As JFK put it in 1961, politicians "must face problems which do not lend themselves to easy or quick or permanent solutions."

He then asks: "How we ensure that our elderly live out their twilight years with dignity and security is one of those difficult issues. There are no easy or quick solutions and answering the challenge necessitates some quite profound reflection on our values."

Emerging Opposition

Doubts are emerging however and if you read the across the newspapers, Downing Street's attitude seems to depending who or what you read as the Spectator's Patrick Hoskins notes on its Coffee House blog  

 "There are signs that the government is set to resist some of its recommendations. Andrew Lansley spoke cagily of it yesterday, hinting that the cap was proving particularly difficult in Coalition Land. George Osborne is said to have concerns at the £2 billion cost of the cap, and at how that money will be raised. And a Downing Street source tells the Telegraph that, thanks to the costs of the matter, social care may be tossed into the "medium length grass" for now."

On the left, there are also concerns that in a bid to protect people's savings, the report is actually regressive. On the Guardian once again Stephen Burke, founder of campaign group United for All Ages, is critical of the complexity of the proposals and the benefits extended to richer people: "Under the commission's regressive proposals, the winners would be richer families whose inheritance will be relatively protected, while most families will face a more confusing and potentially costly care system. The proposed cap on care costs will still result in some older people being forced to sell their homes to pay for care and related costs. The proposals aim to reform the current inadequate system for funding care. But they would lead to a more complex, fragmented and confusing care system … This could be seen as a care 'poll tax' for the so-called squeezed middle."

And here Peter Beresfor, the professor of social policy at Brunel University asks if the report goes far enough.

"We might wonder why the commission hasn't gone the whole nine yards and argued for a free social care system funded from general taxation that can connect seamlessly with a universalist NHS. This is what most service users and members of the public appear to favour and is acknowledged to be the simplest and clearest funding model.

"The truth is Dilnot may have gone a bridge too few. The biggest question mark over the commission is how seriously this government is likely to take it."

The Daily Mail has some concerns about the creation of a two tier service here. It notes that in the "small print, the Dilnot review is expected to say that the state will only guarantee to pay
the basic rate set by local authorities – not the actual bills paid by families, who may want to see their loved one in a higher-quality establishment.

"Currently, people paying for their own care home places pay an average of £631 a week – far higher than the average £520 paid by local authorities.

"That works out at more than £5,700 extra a year that many middle-class families will have to find if they do not want their loved ones to end up in 'bog standard' care.

 "Mr Dilnot's review will suggest that insurance companies will be able to offer 'top-up' insurance for those who want better quality homes."

The trade websites for financial advisers make much of the fact that the Commission has also called for better advice surrounding care with this report from Money Marketing typical.

One adviser is already considering product solutions.

Simon Chalk, LaterLiving writes:

"Government would be wise to accept Dilnot's recommendations on working closely with the private sector. More needs to be done to signpost people for advice. A unified equity release body for specialists would offer a logical resource for the public, should they consider using their own home to pay towards their contribution costs."

More information:

Here is a link to the Commission report

The Guardian talks about what the report means for you here.

And here is the Telegraph's version of the same.

Here is a link to the society of later life advisers if you need advice about care for you or a relative here.

Finally a report from Citywire examines an OECD warning about the public's inability to pay for care across the board.

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