Care fees paid AFTER you die

Ministers will today unveil a ‘pay as you die’ solution to England’s care crisis – allowing pensioners to defer sky-high care home fees until after their deaths.

The elderly will be encouraged to apply for government-backed loans to fund care fees – but their children will still have to find the cash after their loved one has died by selling their parent’s home anyway.
And – on top of this – the relatives will have to pay interest on the loan.
 
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley hopes the scheme will protect the elderly from the heartache of having to sell their homes during their lifetime.
The loan plan will be laid out only days after the Mail revealed that at least 24,500 homes had to be sold last year to pay for care – up 20 per cent in a decade.
It will be published alongside the long-awaited White Paper on care and support, which ministers describe as the biggest reform to social care since Labour scrubbed the Poor Laws from the statute book in 1948.
 
But last night charities attacked the White Paper as a missed opportunity – because the crucial question of how the care system should be funded has been postponed until the next Parliament.
The deferred payment scheme will not affect the poor, because they receive their care free, and it will not be keenly felt by the rich because they will be able to afford the charges.
 
It will be the middle classes who will be most affected – because they are most likely to have a house as their main asset and would want to pass its full value on to their children.
Proposals published today will also:
  • Aim to abolish the postcode lottery in free social care by bringing in a national threshold for access
  • Introduce rules to make it harder for councils to commission home help visits of just 15 minutes 
  • Set aside millions of pounds to pay for improvements to allow people to stay in their own homes 
  • Consider free social care for the terminally-ill to help them stay at home
  • Suggest that a fairer care system should be funded out of general taxation rather than on taxes on pensioners.
 
A funding progress document, to be published alongside the white paper, will include details of the loan plan and say ministers are attracted to the principle of capping the amount of money people have to pay towards their care – with the state paying the rest.
However, it will put off until 2013 or 2014 a decision on what level the cap should be set at, or how the estimated £1.7billion cost should be raised – leading critics to describe the pledge on a cap as ‘meaningless’.
The Coalition’s failure to get to grips with care funding means thousands more will have to sell their homes over the next three years.
The loans, which will be known as ‘universal deferred payments’, are being introduced to allow people to wait before selling their home.
Under the present rules, housing wealth is disregarded for the first 12-week period after someone enters residential care, to give people time to commence selling the home.
However, a sale can be difficult to arrange in this time; and can be stressful when people are frail.
Under the new scheme, ministers will set aside a funding pot to pay for the new loans.
Relatives will be charged interest – but a government source said the rate that would be charged would be nominal not commercial. The scheme would cost around £100million.
 
Mr Lansley said: ‘The last thing people want to think is having to immediately sell their home to pay for residential care.
That is why, from April 2015, we will ensure that people will be able to delay selling their home to pay for residential care. This will give people greater flexibility and peace of mind at what can be a very traumatic time.’
 
In addition, the Health Secretary will announce tomorrow that an extra £300million will be transferred from the NHS to social care. It is hoped this will fund stair lifts, hand rails and other adaptations.
 
Last night Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of charity Age UK, said: ‘By announcing changes that will banish the postcode lottery of care to the history books where it belongs, protect people from having to spend everything they have worked for just to buy in help with basic everyday tasks and ensure that the care system is clear and easy to access, the Government could help lift the fear and uncertainty for older people and their families now and in the future.
‘But the proposals will not live up to ambition without the solid foundation of a fair and sustainable funding structure so we need the Government to make it clear how reforms will be funded and set out a clear timetable.’
 
Saga’s director general, Ros Altmann, added: ‘Delaying decisions on the funding needed until the next spending review ensure that the care crisis in the UK will continue.
‘No more delays, reviews and consultations: we need urgent action.’

Sourced from The Daily Mail, 11th July 2012.