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MPs call for political pact on social care

Report reveals forms of rationing

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MPs on the health committee are calling for reform of the social care system after its latest report found the current system to be underfunded and discriminatory.

The committee is urging the leading political parties to come together to map out sustainable reform rather than “indulging in pre-election politicking”.

The report says social care is chronically underfunded, severely rationed, discriminates against older people and it is too often of poor quality.

It says: “Too often, people do not receive even information and advice on what help is available. The system is often poorly coordinated with other help (not least the NHS and voluntary care). People encounter various forms of rationing, including by eligibility criteria, means-testing and charging, with much local variation.”

The report also criticises the Government’s Free Personal Care at Home Bill which it says “smacks of policymaking on the hoof”. It says the bill risks creating perverse incentives for families to try to keep people out of residential care longer than is appropriate to continue getting free care.

Councils have opposite incentives to place people in residential care prematurely or to manipulate their eligibility criteria so those being cared for at home are not classified as having higher levels of need.

The select committee wants a debate on the Government decision to rule out the option of free care funded from taxation. It also recommends raising the capital thresholds for means-testing.

Committee chairman Kevin Barron, MP, says: “We do not want this issue to be turned into an election football for it to be kicked back into the long grass again in a few weeks.”

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