Find more cash for ‘broken’ social care, ministers told

Ministers in England must not shy away from finding more money to fix the “broken” social care system, the head of an independent review says.

Next week Andrew Dilnot will recommend an overhaul of the support given to the elderly and adults with disabilities.

He said he wanted to create a system where no-one pays any more than they do now – and some pay a lot less.

But he conceded it would require more funding from the government to work – albeit a relatively small amount.

His comments come amid signs the government is concerned about committing extra money at a time when many budgets are being cut.

Selling homes

At the moment, the support provided by councils is means-tested so that anyone with assets over £23,250 has to pay for all the costs of their care.

It means that thousands of people a year are forced to sell their homes when they go into a care home.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the publication of the Commission on Funding Care and Support’s report on Monday, Mr Dilnot said the system was now “broken” after being left largely untouched for 70 years.

“This is the only major risk people face where there is no sharing of risks.

“Our health care needs, the consequences of having a car crash, the consequences of having your house burn down – all of those are covered either by the state or private sector.

“Here the state doesn’t cover you and the private sector won’t cover you so people are exposed to a very large risk with nothing they can do about it.”

He said the situation was leaving people “frightened”.

Mr Dilnot is widely expected to recommend a cap – perhaps as much as £50,000 – on the amount the individual pays so that those who face extremely high costs do not end up losing everything.

He refused to confirm that, but said such a system would not leave anybody worse off.

“Nobody would pay more than they do at the moment. If you are one of those with very high care costs then the high part of that would be taken away by the state. If you are someone who has low care costs then you would pay them just as you would at the moment.”

He warned the government it had to be prepared to pay more.

Earlier this week care services minister Paul Burstow suggested the reaction to the recommendations could be “lukewarm” – the Treasury is thought to have some misgivings about more funding.

Spending on social care tops £14bn a year at the moment – around an eighth of what the NHS gets. A cap of £50,000 would leave the state having to find an estimated £2bn a year.

But Mr Dilnot does not believe this should be a problem.

“I think there is no doubt to make this system better we are going to have to pay more. It does need more resource, but at the moment the amount we spend on this is rather small.”

A spokeswoman for the Treasury said no decisions had been taken.

She added: “Once we have received the report, we will consider its findings and welcome continued constructive engagement from all stakeholders.”