Labour peers are 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.
Current drafting of the Care Bill will ensure councils signpost people to “independent financial advice”, but not necessarily regulated advisers, as such “independent advice” could include charities such as Citizens Advice or the Money Advice Service.
International Longevity Centre chief executive Baroness Sally Greengross and Society of Later Life Advisers president Lord David Lipsey will table new amendments in the House of Lords to try to ensure LTC funders are referred to regulated advisers.
Health minister Earl Howe rejected similar calls at the committee stage of the bill in the Lords but has agreed to meet to find a solution.
Lord Lipsey says: “Those of us concerned about financial advice have hardly started yet. We will be talking to Earl Howe and his officials about making some progress and if we don’t then he will find great difficulty in winning a vote at report stage. I think he is very willing to listen to us.
“There has to be substantial movement from the Government to get the bill to go through in its present form.”
Labour deputy leader in the Lords and shadow health spokesman Lord Philip Hunt says regulated advice referrals are “absolutely vital”. He says: “It is essential such good independent financial advice is available. There was a lot of concern in our debates and we will certainly push this at report stage.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman says: “Peers have laid a number of amendments and we are looking at them carefully. We are listening to what was said during committee stage. However, at the moment, our position remains as stated.”
Care and Support Bill timeline: Financial information and advice
- July 2012: Draft bill published with no explicit reference to financial advice.
- March 2013: Draft bill scrutiny committee recommends referrals to regulated financial advice.
- May 2013: Care Bill unveiled in the Queen’s Speech which includes signposting to “independent financial advice” but not necessarily regulated advisers.
- June 2013: Lords table amendments to make local authorities refer people to regulated financial advisers.
- July 2013: Government rejects amendments but pledges to hold meeting with campaigners.
- October 2013: Care Bill report stage when peers will debate financial information and advice proposals before bill moves to the House of Commons for further scrutiny.