Andrew Lansley complains 'people always want more'

An alliance of pensioners’ organisations, disability charities and care experts accused the Health Secretary of betrayal last week after he refused to commit to limiting the amount adults face paying for care homes.

Mr Lansley told MPs yesterday that the Government was making “all the progress we possibly can” and denied that ministers were kicking the issue “into the long grass”. Officials estimate that 40,000 people are forced to sell their homes each year to pay for a room in a care home, which costs an average of £26,000 a year.

Two years ago, Mr Lansley established a commission chaired by the economist Andrew Dilnot to draw up plans to reform care funding, which includes help for frail adults with tasks such as washing, cooking, and dressing.

Mr Dilnot recommended capping the maximum amount that individuals would pay over their lives at £35,000, with the state stepping in to cover costs above this level.

Under a more generous system of means-testing, the state would also provide some money for individuals who have assets including property worth up to £100,000.

In a report last week, Mr Lansley said he supported the Dilnot proposals but that state funding faced “immense financial pressures”.

The Care and Support Alliance, which includes 65 of the leading care groups, said the White Paper had failed in its basic task of providing an urgent funding reform and had left older people feeling betrayed.

Age UK, Saga, the Royal College of Nursing, social workers’ groups, charities for the disabled and the Roman Catholic Church expressed their disappointment that there was no commitment on funding.

Giving evidence to the Commons health select committee, Mr Lansley said he supported the “principle” of capping the costs of care but warned that he could not promise to introduce a new system because it would cost taxpayers too much.

“People always want more,” he told the MPs. “They always want everything to be done now. We are making all the progress we possibly can.”

Barbara Keeley, a Labour MP on the committee, told the minister he should recognise the anger and disappointment felt by the elderly and disabled and their families. “If you don’t recognise that what was announced last week was a massive missed opportunity, then you are not reading the signs from outside,” she said.

Mr Lansley said no one knew how best to raise the funds to pay for a cap on care costs. “A missed opportunity to do what, exactly?” he asked. He suggested it was possible that legislation introducing a cap on care costs could be brought forward in the next session of Parliament if a way to pay for it could be agreed.

The minister confirmed that the Government would consider a higher cap on care costs of up to £100,000.

Sourced from the Telegraph, 18th July 2012.