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Symponia questions Govt’s National Care Service proposal

Symponia is questioning the cost of Labour’s proposals for a National Care Service and the abolition of means testing linked to care for Britain’s elderly.

Joint founder and managing director Janet Davies says Gordon Brown’s proposal for a basic National Care Service is a good thing, but says there lies a fundamental problem with funding any associated costs.

She says: “Labour plans to introduce a basic National Care Service is good, giving everybody basic entitlement. But therein lies a fundamental problem. We know that the basic entitlement will cover care, but no mention has been made of accommodation and other associated costs.”

Davies says the basic entitlement will probably cover a payment which reflects the current local authority guidelines, so those with modest means will have the bulk of their care covered, but the difference between care and accommodation will not be met by all.

She adds: “Sadly, most local authority contributions are below the national care home fee average of £600 per week, and significantly lower than the more discerning quality care homes that charge in excess of £1,000.”

On Gordon Brown’s pledge to end means testing linked to care for the elderly, Davies says this is a good move but could be seen as a stealth approach.

She says: “On paper Labour’s intention to abolish means testing is, in essence, a good thing. But dig a little deeper and what becomes more obvious is that this could be seen as a stealth approach and a way of altering who pays what for whom. How will this be funded?

“The government does not have the money, which means something else will have to be introduced or an existing benefit such as Attendance Allowance and the nursing care contribution replaced or renamed.”

She adds: “So abolishing means testing may relieve Mr Brown’s conscience but not individuals’ care costs, as they will still have to pay significant amounts of money towards their own care.”

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