Tackling the future funding of social care

Age UK has responded to a Department of Health consultation on the future funding of social care. This marks the latest stage in the long march to reform how we pay for care. The ‘Dilnot’ Commission on long term care funding recommended a new system whereby the amount that individuals would be expected to pay towards their care needs would be capped. The government has announced that it will implement a modified version of these recommendations. However there are still many unanswered questions about the new system and concern about its complexity.

The proposals are based on a new national system of eligibility for local authority care. The only spending by an individual that will count towards the 440px_older_carers_handscap is that required to meet needs which fall within these criteria – currently set at ‘substantial’ . If the criteria are too restrictive people might have spent large amounts before their outlay even starts to count towards the cap. Age UK has therefore argued that eligibility for local authority care should include people with what would currently be defined as moderate needs. Continue reading “Tackling the future funding of social care”

Spending Review 2013

Older people featured rather significantly in the public spending review to 2015/16. The Chancellor talked quite forcefully about the need to address the problems in social care, and in his consideration of welfare spending, he firmly identified state pensions as remaining outside his proposed new ‘cap’.

440x210_george-osborneThe landscape for the next Government is coming into view, but what does it mean for older people beyond the rhetoric? By 2016, of course, we should be implementing the legislation currently being debated in Parliament and have in place a new single tier state pension and a new social care regime – funded in part by the ideas proposed by Andrew Dilnot. The spending plans suggest that more money will be diverted from NHS budgets into programmes jointly commissioned with social care.   If this means more integrated care and a more ‘whole person’ approach, it will be welcome. But before we get there, local government will have taken another severe cut in its budget, and there is speculation that social care support may be prioritised only for those with critical needs. This means we will remain far away from the ambition to provide the appropriate care which promotes independence and prevents people from becoming substantially or critically in need of care. Continue reading “Spending Review 2013”

Budget 2013: did the Chancellor deliver for older people?

Following statements from the Chancellor prior to the budget, it seemed that older people were due to benefit from significant changes to the future funding structures of social care and pensions. However, following the Chancellor’s statement there is little new to celebrate.

The main point of interest for pensioners was confirmation that the implementation of the cap on social care costs (the ‘Dilnot’ reforms) and the introduction of the single-tier state pension will both be brought forward to 2016-17. From April 2016, there will be a cap of £72,000 on the costs of care, and the upper threshold limit for the residential care means test will be increased to £118,000.

440x210_pound-coinsWhilst we welcome the earlier implementation of the care costs cap and the higher upper means test threshold from April 2016, this will do nothing to help the 800,000 older people who need help with everyday tasks but receive no formal state support. Since 2010/11, in real terms £700 million has been cut from local authority spending on social care. Although the Government has provided additional investment for social care over the course of this parliament, it has not been enough to halt the downwards spiral in care funding. As a result, 85 per cent of local authorities now provide care only to people with substantial or critical needs.
Continue reading “Budget 2013: did the Chancellor deliver for older people?”

Joint Committee reports on Draft Care and Support Bill

The Joint Committee on the Draft Care and Support Bill has completed its scrutiny of the draft bill, and published a report and recommendations. The committee is supportive of much of the bill, but suggests that further measures to promote preventative services and early intervention, and to promote integration between local authority social care, housing services and the NHS, could be included.

440px_older_carers_handsThe committee also argues that the government has underestimated the cost of implementing the proposals contained in the bill. In launching the report, the committee’s chair, Paul Burstow, argued that “The government must take stock of its funding for adult care and support and think seriously about whether the transformation we all want to see can truly be delivered without greater resources’. Age UK has similarly called for the government’s forthcoming spending review to make provision for funding a fair and dependable care system.

Continue reading “Joint Committee reports on Draft Care and Support Bill”

Government announces care costs cap

This blog was contributed by Caroline Abrahams, Director of External Affairs, for Age UK. 

Last year’s White Paper and draft Bill make these encouraging times for social care, for decades a Cinderella service. What has been so obviously lacking though is the funding for a better system, so today’s announcement about the implementation of ‘Dilnot’ is a welcome step forward.

Unfortunately, implementation has to wait until April 2017, so very few older people living in a care home now will benefit, but at least some of those who come after them will: the Government estimates that 1 in 6 older people who need care will gain, but by just how much and over what timescale is hard to tell without detailed modelling which the Government has not (yet) released.

Continue reading “Government announces care costs cap”

Working together to support older people

The Autumn Statement announced bleak growth figures and more cuts ahead, reminding us all, once again, we face hard times and unprecedented and prolonged pressure on public services many of which older people rely.

This is why now, more than ever, we all need –  the government, public, private, and voluntary sectors and individuals – to work together to meet the challenges and maximise the opportunities our growing ageing population presents.

Age UK, together with our national and local partners, is playing its part. In 2012 we reached over 7 million older people with our information and advice services, our handy person service visited nearly 14,000 homes and we helped more than 65,000 older people keep active and healthy through our Fit as a Fiddle programme. In tough economic times we understand supporting people in later life to make informed choices and maximise their wealth, health, independence and wellbeing is important for the individuals and helps drive down inefficient and unnecessary costs in our public services. Continue reading “Working together to support older people”

Squeezing the rich pensioners

When Andrew Dilnot published his proposals on funding social care, he envisaged that a better, fairer system would require extra funding from public expenditure, and observed that since older people would be the principal beneficiaries, it would be preferable if this was raised by taxes which older people contribute to so that not all the cost would fall on the younger population.

Since then, a variety of ideas have been floated from a range of different quarters.   But the discussion has also become conflated with views about intergenerational fairness as the Government tries to bear down on public spending, and comments about the ‘generosity’ of some universal benefits received by pensioners.   There has long been a rumble of complaint that rich pensioners receive the Winter Fuel Payment.   Frank Field waded in, arguing that before we find more money for older people, we should be looking at the poverty and the shortage of opportunities for children.   The Lib Dem think tank CentreForum published a paper looking at the tax reliefs available to older people and their exemption from National Insurance if they are working over State Pension Age.   Now, in the margins of the Lib Dem and Labour Conferences, the appropriateness of pensioners’ benefits has again bubbled up, though the Coalition Agreement specifically protects these till 2015. Continue reading “Squeezing the rich pensioners”