Care home fee row escalates

The credit crunch is putting further pressure on councils’ ability to provide thousands of pounds in loans to help elderly people pay care home fees without selling their own properties.

And it has come to light that the Local Government Association is researching how much council money is tied up in the so-called ‘deferred payments’ created by the Health & Social Care Act 2001.

Research by the Conservative Party shows a mixed picture of councils’ use of the powers — some do not offer any deferred payments while others, such as Buckinghamshire County Council and Hampshire County Council, offer hundreds of advances.

Age Concern policy adviser Pauline Thompson said the charity had seen an increase in calls from residents frustrated and angry that their council had turned down their request. “It does cause a cashflow problem,” she said.

She added that the payments were a government election pledge that should be honoured.

Anne McDonald, LGA programme director for community wellbeing, said it was clear that many people were now unable — rather than unwilling — to sell their own homes to pay for their care needs before they died.

“People are going to need a very strong case for having a deferred payment in future,” she said.