Dilnot claims victory in fight for care reform (Article by William Robins in New Model Adviser on 14.02.2012)

14 Feb
Dilnot claims victory in fight for care reformAndrew Dilnot has claimed his proposed long-term care (LTC) reforms have the support of prime minister David Cameron and will not be killed off by political pressure.Speaking to New Model Adviser®, Dilnot (pictured) said there was no time for opponents to his plans to put forward an alternative to the £2 billion reforms.

‘It is now too late to kill off my proposals. Since no-one has been able to come forward with an alternative by now it is too late to do anything else.’ he said. ‘I think some people assumed it would be killed off by the prime minister, but he has not wanted to do that.’

Under proposals from Dilnot’s Commission on Funding of Care and Support, the government would fund any care costs above £35,000, excluding the cost of care homes. Another proposal is to raise the threshold of assets people can hold and still qualify for means-tested help from £23,000 to £100,000.

Together these two moves would cost the government an extra £2 billion a year.

If supported, Dilnot’s proposals will form the backbone of the government’s white paper on LTC, which was originally due to be published at the end of 2011. Publication has been delayed until April amid political reservations about Dilnot’s plans.

Tim Anstee, partner at LTC specialist IFA The Wealth Care Partnership in Hampshire, has been involved in cross-industry forums on the content of the white paper hosted by the Department of Health.

Anstee said Dilnot’s proposals were likely to become a reality but that there would be compromises.

‘[Dilnot] will not get quite what he proposed. For example, the cap is likely to rise from £35,000 to £60,000. The timing of the white paper is going to slip too. It has already been delayed from December to April. Now I’m hearing from meetings it will be May or June,’ he said.

‘We could be waiting until 2015. The problem is people need advice now.’

Anstee said the forums, which included advisers, care homes, organisations for the elderly, providers and trade bodies such as the Association of British Insurers, had discussed the creation of special financial products, such as a care annuity that increases its rate if people fall ill.

Steve Groves, chief executive of LTC specialist provider Partnership, said policy makers had been wary of Dilnot’s plans because they were unfunded and economically regressive.

‘Let’s say the white paper includes the cap at £50,000. That’s still an unfunded proposal. Dilnot has parked the question of funding. It is also regressive: a lot of people will get taxed but only a few people will get the benefit.’

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