Health secretary Andrew Lansley’s social care reforms have been shrouded in impressive PR, but many have expressed disappointment at the lack of concrete change committed in the white paper released today.
The BBC reports:
Ministers have refused to fully commit to a cap on care costs which the elderly and disabled must pay in England, saying they need to explore cheaper options first.
On taking power, the coalition had said it would look at funding amid concerns from councils and the elderly and disabled who rely on the services that the system was struggling to cope.
It asked an economist, Andrew Dilnot, to come up with recommendations and he reported back last summer recommending the £35,000 cap.
But after a year of talks with a variety of people inside and outside government, health secretary Andrew Lansley said while it was the “right basis” for change he could not yet fully commit to it.
Steve Wilkie, director of equity release specialist Responsible Equity Release, said:
“We’d been warned to expect a damp squib, and in that sense at least, the health secretary didn’t disappoint. This was the whitest of white papers – wishy washy and woefully non-committal.
“The health secretary’s speech to the Commons was peppered with noble sentiments but contained precious little substance. The government has agreed on the need for reform, but that’s about it. At best it’s a fudge, at worst it’s a fiddle.
“Mr Lansley may have promised that no-one will be forced to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care, but many awkward questions remain about how this promise will be paid for. The deferred loan scheme is far from a perfect solution for those who are facing the prospect of forking out for hefty care bills.”
At lunchtime today, Lansley announced further reforms for the elderly, who would be able to “opt in” to a social care insurance scheme that would involve paying a premium to the state to ensure the price of social care for them would be capped.
Andy Burnham responded:
“[This government is] adopting a pick-and-mix approach to the Dilnot package which was conceived as a coherent and complementary whole.
“Despite the obvious political risks in doing so, we faced up to the difficult issue of how to pay for care and support in the century of the ageing society. This government has failed to do so.
“With no answers on the money, this White Paper fails the credibility test; it is half a plan. The proposals set out today are in danger of appearing meaningless and may in fact raise false hopes among older people, their careers and families.”
Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation added:
“While we welcome the publication of the long-awaited Social Care White Paper, we are deeply frustrated that more progress has not been made, and that the decision on how to pay for long-term care has been postponed yet again.
“The Secretary of State says this is a watershed moment. It is not. Extending current practice on deferred payments is entirely sensible, but it is also a sticking plaster.
“Andrew Dilnot’s Commission gave us all hope for a new fair settlement and achieved wide-spread support - it is hugely disappointing his recommendations are not being acted upon now.”
Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK, said:
“Today’s announcements will progress some much needed proposals for reform of the social care framework, but sadly leaves far too much unconfirmed.
Why has the government bothered to bring in Dilmot to submit recommendations, to then avoid adhering to any of them? This seems to be a government only wanting things their way and not what is best for the people.