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Cross-party peers fight for regulated LTC advice referrals in Care bill

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Cross-party peers have tabled amendments to the Care bill to force local authorities to explicitly refer people to regulated financial advice when funding care costs.

The bill, published last month and currently being debated in the House of Lords, sets out a requirement for local authorities to signpost care funders to “independent” financial advice but stops short of requiring the advice to be regulated.

Other sources of independent advice can include charities such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and AgeUK or the Money Advice Service.

It is understood the Department of Health is concerned people funding long-term care could be referred to IFAs and incur costs when it is not appropriate.

Campaigners argue only regulated advisers can provide care funders with a full range of trusted options and must be directly offered qualified advice.

Last month, Money Marketing revealed cross-bench peer Baroness Sally Greengross planned to table an amendment to the bill on advice and she has now lodged it.

Her amendment states: “A local authority must only offer a financial product to pay for care to people who have received regulated financial advice or are customers who have opted out of taking regulated financial advice.”

International Longevity Centre chief executive Baroness Greengross has tabled three further amendments calling for care funders to be referred to regulated advisers for all areas of financial services which may include equity release.

Society of Later Life Advisers chairman and Labour peer Lord David Lipsey has also tabled an amendment to make it clear people should be signposted to regulated financial advice.

A senior MP is also considering an amendment to ensure people are referred to independent advice, rather than merely signposted.

In addition, policy-makers are debating whether to introduce an industry-funded free initial financial advice consultation. The plan would involve the financial services industry paying for a no obligation, free initial consultation with care funders in a bid to allay fears over advice fees and smooth the path towards regulated advice being made explicit in the bill.

The bill sets out Government plans to cap care costs at £72,000 from April 2016. The advice amendments are set to be debated in the House of Lords during committee stage on 4 July for up to three days.

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