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Ex-minister Paul Burstow says Treasury could scupper Dilnot reforms

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Former care services minister Paul Burstow has blasted the Treasury for being an “obstacle” to long-term care reforms.

Writing in the Telegraph today, Sutton and Cheam MP Burstow, who was replaced by Norman Lamb in this month’s ministerial reshuffle, says the Treasury has no “sense of urgency” and may abandon reforms.

Andrew Dilnot’s long-term care report, published in July last year, calls for a £35,000 cap on individuals’ lifetime contributions to long-term care costs. Any cost above this level would be met by the Government.

Prime minister David Cameron backed the principle of a cap over the summer but expressed concern over the £1.7bn annual price tag. Last week, Lamb said there was “no rush” to implement the reforms sparking fear of delays.

Burstow says: “It is still far from certain that the coalition has the political will to grasp this historic opportunity.

“Why, despite the signs the prime minister had changed his mind over the summer, could the coalition fail? Answer: HM Treasury.

“The Treasury’s view is simple, kick the can down the road despite our rising elderly population. There is no sense of urgency. No recognition that left unreformed there is no incentive for families to plan and prepare.

“In the view of mandarins there is no need for change, and certainly not yet.”

Burstow also revealed a voluntary individual contribution cap was under Government discussion meaning that for a fee, people could opt-in.

He says: “For me and my fellow Liberal Democrats, this kind of thinking is dangerous. A voluntary cap really does not add up.”

A Treasury spokesman told the Telegraph: “This is absolute rubbish. Unlike the previous Government the Treasury has been key in getting this issue back on the agenda, not least by working to deliver stable public finances that are essential if Dilnot is to be delivered.”

Strategic Society Centre director James Lloyd says the Government has hinted at disagreements over the implementation of reforms

He says: “The big question is still where the money should come from. As the public finances sink into the mud, it will be ever more imperative that the beneficiaries of the Dilnot model – older households with substantial housing wealth – are also the ones to pay for it. But, there is still no sign of the Government or social care campaigners trying to light the fire for having that debate with the public.”


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