Care services minister Norman Lamb says he will “strengthen” the role of regulated advisers in long-term care funding reforms in changes to the Care bill.
The bill, currently in the House of Lords, would force local authorities to signpost people funding their own long-term care to “independent” financial advice but not regulated advisers.
Other sources of financial advice could take the form of charities such as Citizens Advice or bodies like the Money Advice Service. Cross-party peers have tabled amendments to the bill to force councils to refer to regulated advisers with later life qualifications.
Responding to a question from Money Marketing at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow yesterday, Lamb said he recognises the need for quality financial advice and will act on concerns.
He said: “For these reforms to work we need to set fire to the role financial services can play in providing additional support. If they ultimately ignore it and carry on as before then we will have missed a great trick. However, I understand they have to see a commercial market and they won’t just go into it for well intentioned reasons so it has to make sense for them.
“The two things they have said to us, which they feel are incredibly important to make this work, is firstly raising awareness. Government has to lead the way in getting the public to a much better place in understanding what these reforms are about and that is, self-evidently, incredibly important. the level of understanding is incredibly weak.It comes as a shock to most people that they have to pay for it.
“The second thing the industry asks for is that those people with assets, perhaps with significant assets, are encouraged, not forced, to seek good quality financial advice from an IFA, preferably someone with later life qualifications. I do feel there is a need for that type of professional advice and we are looking at the bill. I can’t make announcements now but we are looking at how we can strengthen that to provide some re-assurance.”
Lamb also said Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg personally intervened to push through long-term care funding reforms as part of mid-term coalition negotiations.
The bill seeks to cap the cost of care at £72,000 from April 2016 and implement the recommendations of Andrew DIlnot’s commission into care funding for the elderly.
In a recent interview with Money Marketing, Labour peer David Lipsey said the party was confident they can win a fresh battle in the House of Lords to force councils to refer long-term care funders to regulated financial advisers.