Dilnot: Govt should invest in LTC advice strategy

The Dilnot Commission has called on the Government to invest in a major information and advice strategy to help people when they need long-term care.

The Commission on Funding of Care and Support, set up by the Government a year ago and chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot, published its proposals on long-term care funding today.

The report confirms the recommendations trailed ahead of the report’s publication for a cap on individuals’ lifetime contributions to their social care costs of between £25,000 and £50,000, with £35,000 the recommended figure. When the cap is reached individuals would then be eligible for full state support.

Currently the means-tested threshold where people are required to fund the full costs of their care is £23,250. The commission recommends increasing this to £100,000.

It is also calling for people to contribute a standard amount to cover their general living costs, such as food and accommodation, in residential care. The commission suggests a maximum contribution figure of between £7,000 and £10,000 a year.

Launching the report this morning Lord Norman Warner, a member of the commission, said people are poorly informed about the options when it comes to long-term care, and often seek advice in a time of crisis.

He said an advice strategy on long-term care would look to address this.

In its report, the commission says: “The Government should develop a major new information and advice strategy to help when care needs arise. It is critical that the public has access to better, easy-to-understand and reliable information and advice about services and funding sources.”

The commission says this should be developed in partnership with charities, local government, and the financial services sector.

It adds: “As proposed by the Law Commission, a statutory duty should be placed on local authorities to provide information, advice and assistance services in their areas.

“These should be available to all people, irrespective of how their care is funded or provided.”

Speaking this morning, Dilnot said the reforms recommended should open up an opportunity for the financial sector to help people better plan for the costs of long-term care.

Dilnot added: “It has been clear for many years that the system needs reforming, and it needs reforming now. It was recognised by the coalition, and by the last Government. The industry and stakeholder community want to see something done here.

“We think it it is appropriate that there should be a period of discussion and debate, and then there needs to be a white paper. We expect a white paper by easter next year. That seems to be a reasonable timetable. Our sense is we are not alone in expecting change.”

The commission believes its proposals could be implemented by 2014.