David Cameron is not being straight with elderly people and their families about the Government's plans for social care, Labour said today. A new analysis shows the proposals in the Queens Speech which come into force in 2016:
1. Won't stop people from having to sell their homes to pay for care
Under the deferred payment scheme, councils loan people money to cover their care costs, which has to be paid back by selling the family home after the elderly person has died. The Government's new scheme means families will face losing even more of their homes than they do now, because they will be charged interest on the loan, unlike the current system.
2. Won't cap the costs elderly people actually pay for their residential care
The £72,000 'cap' on care costs being introduced the Government will be based on the standard rate local councils pay for residential care in their area, which is on average £480 a week. 125,000 pensioners who fully fund their care face weekly bills that are on average £50 - £140 more, and far higher in some areas. This extra amount will still have to be paid by elderly people and won't count towards the 'cap'. In addition, most elderly people in care homes will die long before they ever reach the 'cap'.
3. Won't mean pensioners get their care for free if they have income or assets worth up to £123,000 - and pensioners on average incomes will miss out on any extra help
Elderly people will still only get free care if they have income or assets under the lower means-tested limit, which isn't being increased and will be £17,500 in 2017. Pensioners with income or assets between £17,500 and £123,000, the new increased upper means-tested limit, will get a sliding scale of support from councils as they do now. But due to the way this sliding scale works, pensioners on average incomes with modest second pensions wont get any council support, even with the new increased upper means-tested limit.
Liz Kendall MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said:
"The Government's new scheme is incredibly complex, and David Cameron should be straight with people about what it really means in practice.
"Instead, Ministers are telling people they wont have to sell their homes to pay for their care, and that their costs will be capped at £72,000. This simply isn't the case.
"And they have failed to spell out that the way they are changing the means-test won't help pensioners on average incomes who have worked hard and saved all their lives.
"The growing care crisis is one of the biggest challenges we face as a country. Older people and their families deserve to be told the facts so they can properly plan for the future, and not have the Government attempt to pull the wool over their eyes."