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Helping the elderly pay for their long-term care
13/02/2013 08:55:00


On Monday, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, announced more generous support for elderly people struggling to pay for their long-term care.

This is an issue that many of my constituents worry about. None of us know what care we might need towards the end of our life. Many of us will die without needing to go into a residential or nursing home - we might have a sudden illness or we might have family members who are able to care for us. Others might have a short stay in a residential home. But some of us will need a long stay in a nursing home and that can be very expensive.

At the moment, anyone with assets over £23,250 gets no support from the government. As a result, over 30,000 people every year who have worked hard all their lives to build up something to pass on to their loved ones find that they have to sell any property they own and use up their savings. This sends out entirely the wrong message: that if you work hard and save for your or your family’s future, you may end up little better off than someone who hasn’t bothered to save a penny. Rather than supporting those who do the right thing, we are penalising them.

The Government has already made some changes. From 2015, people will be able to defer the payment of care costs so that no one need sell their home to pay for their care during their lifetime and there will be a national minimum eligibility threshold to end the lottery that can see support provided in one area but not in another.

But we clearly need to do more and on Monday Jeremy announced two important changes to make the system fairer.

First, the Government will cap care costs so that people can have certainty about the maximum amount they will have to pay. From 2017, it will pay for care costs over £75,000. This equates to £61,000 in 2010/11 prices, compared to the Dilnot Commission’s recommendation of £50,000. The Government would have liked to set the cap at the level Dilnot recommended, but given the financial pressures the country faces that wasn’t possible. This will help a significant number of people - almost one in five older people face care costs of £75,000 or more.

Second, the Government will step in earlier to pay a proportion of care costs. The threshold over which you get no help will be more than quadrupled from £23,250 to £123,000.

The Government will also take forward other crucial reforms proposed by Dilnot, including free care for those who turn 18 with eligible care needs and a lower cap for people of working age who develop care needs before state pension age.

These changes will cost the Government £1 billion a year by 2020. Given the financial mess that we inherited from Labour, there’s no money sitting around to pay for this so the Government has had to find savings elsewhere. Some of the money is coming from the additional National Insurance contributions that the Government will get as a result of the end of contracting out due to the introduction of a single state pension. The remainder will come from freezing the Inheritance Tax threshold. The Government’s justification for this is that this is about ensuring that people have an estate to pass on to their loved ones, but it is still a pretty bitter pill for Conservatives to swallow. Many of us want to see the threshold increased so that middle income families don’t have to pay this tax.

Arguments over how it is paid for aside, this is another example - as with our pension system - of this Government making long-term reforms that Labour ducked while they were in office. By 2030, there will be twice as many people aged over 85 and the number of people with dementia will exceed one million. More and more people are going to need expensive care towards the end of their lives. As individuals we need to prepare for that just as we prepare for retirement by making pension contributions during our working lives. But it is difficult to do that if you are uncertain about what costs you might face. Monday’s announcement gives people certainty about the maximum cost they will face and by doing so will encourage a market in insurance products. And it focuses help on those in greatest need and better protects those who do the right thing. It's a big step in the right direction.

Comment on this blog


Readers' Comments

On 13/02/2013 09:53:00 David wrote:
It's a shame that we spend our entire lives building something up, just so we have to sell it to pay for our care in autumn years. So here's a thought...

Please find below our suggestion for fixing the UK 's economy.

Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.

You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:

There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force.

Pay them £1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire.

Ten million job openings - unemployment fixed

2) They MUST buy a new British car.

Ten million cars ordered - Car Industry fixed

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage -

Housing Crisis fixed

4) They MUST send their kids to school/college/university -

Crime rate fixed

5) They MUST buy £100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week .....

And there's your money back in duty/tax etc

It can't get any easier than that!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances

If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know.


Let's put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.

This way the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.

They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out.

They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell.

They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.

They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling, pool and education.

Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request.

Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens.

Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls.

There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. Live in a tiny room and pay £600.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out.

Think about this (more points of contention):


Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Appleby almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Cumbria?

And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.

On 13/02/2013 10:08:00 David White wrote:
These reforms are a welcome step forward. I have seen myself many instances where people have lost their homes and almost all their savings to pay for care. These are often not wealthy people. To have this burden on top of having to deal with dementia or other problems in later life has been so unfair.

Your article gives an admirably clear summary of the proposed changes. However, why put in the tired remark about "the mess inherited from the last Labour Government"? The 2008 world financial crash would not have been averted if we had had a Tory Government in office then. Why not try to ensure all-party support for the social care proposals by leaving out the party political jibes?

Some aspects of the proposals are less than perfect. They will not come in until 2017. People will still have to pay "board and lodging". In many areas people will have no real choice but to "top up" the amounts offered by the State, in order to fund their care.

Nevertheless, in removing the possibility that people will lose almost everything when they go into care, the proposals achieve a great deal.




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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG