Labour health spokesman and Lords deputy leader Lord Philip Hunt is warning the Government’s proposed long-term care funding system will “face collapse” due to the weight of demand.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour party conference in Brighton yesterday, Lord Hunt fears the number of people looking to get assessed for care could overwhelm local authorities.
The Care bill proposes a cap of £72,000 on costs for long-term care from April 2016 meaning people who are funding themselves will need to be assessed by local authorities and start registering care payments against the cap.
Lord Hunt is a former health minister and NHS Confederation chief executive after spending 30 years working in the health service or on health policy.
He said: “There are an awful lot of issues around local authority capacity in relation to the assessment of self-funders. Once this commences there will be thousands of people who will want to get assessed because that will enable the clock to start ticking to reach £72,000.
“I was once involved in setting up the Child Support Agency and when it was brought in in the early 1990s it was retrospective so thousands of parents on benefits were deemed to be owing money to the state and the CSA collapsed under the weight of that expectation. I have a great fear that local authorities are not going to be able to deal with all the self-funders who will want to be assessed the moment this comes into being. I have real concerns that the system will collapse.”
Lord Hunt also criticised the Care bill for not referring self-funders to regulated advisers, claiming it is a “big gap” in the legislation and he hopes it can be changed. The bill currently only signposts people to “independent financial advice” but not regulated advisers.
Partnership head of corporate affairs Jim Boyd says: “Few people are as well placed as Lord Hunt to understand the impact of health policies on the health and social care system. What he says is a chilling warning about the impact of health proposals in 2016.”