Care services minister Norman Lamb says there will be “no rush” to make long-term care funding reforms.
Andrew Dilnot’s long term care plan, published in July last year, calls for a cap on individuals’ lifetime contributions to social care costs of £35,000. Any costs above this level will be met by the Government.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 yesterday North Norfolk MP Lamb, who was appointed to his post in this month’s cabinet reshuffle replacing Paul Burstow, says the Government now accepts Dilnot’s proposal to cap costs.
He says: “Dilnot’s argument is that we should cap the liability so we know that at a certain point, and we can have a debate about where it is, the state will take over the cost. I think it is a good principle. Over the summer the Prime Minister spoke out in favour of Dilnot and I was very pleased to hear it.
“I don’t want to pre-empt anything that will happen during the autumn. We accept the principle of it but any Government or opposition has to ask how to pay for it as there is cost attached to it. The Government is spending about £120bn a year more than it bring in new taxes so there is a question about when you can bring in a new system and, critically, how you pay for it.”
Lamb refused to give a timetable for legislation or implementation of reforms but said it is is unlikely to be announced at next week’s Liberal Democrat conference.
He says: “Don’t expect a rush to make an announcement on it. I want to get it right. I’ve been in the job for 10 days so I want to make sure I get on top of the issues, take all the advice from officials and make a proper decision so everyone understands how the system will work.”
Lamb also signalled support for equity release products to fund care, saying any bill will include the ability to defer the cost of long-term care until after an individual dies, acting as a charge against the home rather than a panic sale.
In the Government’s care and support white paper published last month any commitment to long-term care funding costs were deferred to the 2013 or 2014 spending review.