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Long-term care funding must help poorest first

A thinktank set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has rebuked the Dilnot commission’s proposals for funding long-term care, saying they will do little to help the poorest people fund their care arrangements.

The Dilnot report, published last July, calls for a cap on individuals’ lifetime contributions to social care costs of between £25,000 and £50,000, with £35,000 the recommended figure. It also suggests increasing the means-testing threshold from £23,500 to £100,000.

The Centre for Social Justice, set up by the former Conservative leader in 2004, says the proposals address people “losing everything” to pay for their care but do not look at improving care as it is.

The report says the Government should instead focus funding on improving the care system as it stands and phase in the Dilnot proposals later.

It says: “All hope has been pinned on the fate of Andrew Dilnot’s proposals. Yet they do not address the means-tested system for those who have not been fortunate enough to own their own houses but instead find themselves dependent on the state in their old age.

“The greatest priority remains ameliorating a formal care system, which at present treats very many very badly. The Government must focus much-needed additional funding on this group before, at a later date, potentially phasing in the Dilnot reforms.”

A progress report on long-term care funding was expected to be published alongside a social care white paper in April. Both will now be published in June, raising concerns that reform could be set back considerably.

The report slams “15 years of faffing” and weak governmental leadership for resulting in a failure to address the reform of long-term care funding earlier.

Shadow minister for care and older people Liz Kendall says the Government has to “grasp the nettle” over care funding. “The issue is too important to kick into the long grass,” she says.

Forty-Two Wealth Management partner Alan Dick says: “A short-term fix is needed but addressing long-term funding will eventually put an end to short-term problems.”

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