Tag Archives: social care

Funding Social Care costs

Andrew Dilnot, the economist who reviewed social care for the coalition government has described the social care system as a classic example of market failure  where the private sector cannot do what’s needed.

On the Tory plans, he said:

The changes just fail to tackle the central problem that scares most people. You are not tackling the big issue that people can’t pool their risks. There is nothing that anybody can do to pool their risk with the rest of the population, you just have to hope that you are not unlucky.

It is not providing insurance. You could easily have care costs of £300,000 each if you are a couple; you are not able to cover that extreme risk which is what we all want to do faced with anything else which we can insure. That’s the market failure and these changes do nothing to address that.

Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb has said:

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Dementia Tax – Project Fear

Dementia has been a big part of my life. Over the years I have worked with people with dementia in some of our most deprived communities in south London – Brixton, Elephant and Castle, Peckham, Old Kent Road and the surrounding (often high-rise) estates.

I have therefore felt very torn by the party’s recent headlong charge for the populist line on the “dementia tax”. As a (naturally pretty tribal) Lib Dem of three decades standing I recognised a fantastic campaigning issue that might help claw back a few coastal “retirement” seats. However, I also knew that the inaccurate use of the term dementia tax (it is neither a tax nor is it about dementia) causes pain to many for whom this is not just a line in a press release but something real and near at hand.  People with dementia have a cognitive impairment but they are not stupid; they can and do take in political messages. Politicians need to think of the deep distress their negative campaigning can cause to many of our 850,000 fellow citizens who are living with this disease.

During the election the party launched a “Theresa May Estate Agent” website that quoted the  example of a “lady from Runcorn” who at the first symptoms of dementia had her home whipped away by the government. This achieves the triple whammy of being misleading about dementia, misleading about the current system and misleading about the (then) prospective system. If only we had moderated our language on this. For a start the dichotomy between “free” coronary care and “paid for” dementia care is false. Thanks to the voluntary sector (usually funded by health services or councils) many people with dementia get significant help and advice for free. If you are diagnosed with dementia early the stereotype of a tragic husk of a dementia victim slumped in a chair is completely untrue. There is no cure for or reversal of dementia but the NHS funds drugs which can have a plateauing effect on the symptoms of Alzheimer’s for many years. Lots of dementia care from MRI scans to memory clinics is completely free of charge.

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Lord Martin Thomas writes…The moment the election turned

On the morning of Monday, 22nd May, we were tipped off that Theresa May was coming to the Memorial Hall in Gresford, an old mining village just outside Wrexham where we live. My wife, Joan (Baroness) Walmsley, and I headed off immediately to be part of this unusual and unheralded event – the last PM in Gresford was Ted Heath in 1970.

The entrance to the hall was manned by anonymous young men in dark suits and unsurprisingly our names were not on the printed list of expected attendees from the local Tory faithful. However, I pointed out that I was President of the Trust which built and owned the building and they obviously thought there would be more trouble if we were excluded. The local Tory candidate reluctantly agreed.

Joan was clued up about the dementia tax, since she had been debating it with Jeremy Hunt at Alzheimer’s Society meeting in London four days’ earlier. We thought we might raise the issue with Mrs May.

For the first fifteen minutes, the PM attacked Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbot in highly personal and insulting terms. The election was apparently between her personally and these reprobates. She was still in “strong and stable” mode. There was no “conservative” on the back cloth.

And then something surprising happened.

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Why is it so difficult for politicians to understand social care?

Social care is any extra help that a person needs with day to day living. It might be getting out and about, maintaining relationships, preparing meals, washing, paying bills or cleaning and maintaining the house. Anything that does not require really specialised knowlege but is, nonetheless, essential for a person’s wellbeing. Infants, small children and those with disabilities often need social care. Most adults can manage well into their old age by hiring someone like a gardener or a cleaner except if they have a medical condition such arthritis, Parkinson’s or dementia. Even then, most people can pay for their care themselves or claim attendance allowance to help them to do so. The problem comes in when their care reaches such a level that this benefit does not cover the cost of their care and they have depleted their savings. Currently, the local authority will help towards the cost of a person’s care – or even organise the care – if the person’s savings have depleted to £23,250. This does not currently include the value of the person’s house if they own it. If the person needs to go into a care home or other form of residential care, they are currently expected to fund their own care by selling their house and will only be eligible for support from the local authority when their savings have depleted to £23,250.

The problem that Theresa May has had is that the conservatives have tried to level the playing field by saying that the value of the person’s home should taken into consideration regardless of whether they have care in the home or in a residential setting. This means that a person with a home worth £500,000 will need to pay for their care for many years before receiving any public assistance. To top it off, the Tories did not agree to the £72,000 cap proposed by the Liberal Democrats in government so Theresa May was left holding the bag as many people realised that their life savings may go on care and that they may only be able to pass on minimal savings to their children and grandchildren. On BBC Question Time last night, Mrs. May committed that people would “not have to sell their homes in their lifetime” but this is rather a big promise and one which I, for one, do not believe she can keep.

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WATCH: Lib Dems attack “Dementia Tax” with mock estate agent “Theresa May and Co”

The Liberal Democrats have launched a mock estate agent named “Theresa May and Co”, in a scathing attack on Theresa May’s plans on social care, widely referred to as the “Dementia tax”.

It is described as “Westminster’s finest estate agents – dealing exclusively in selling vulnerable elderly people’s homes to pay for the care they desperately need.”

It comes after Liberal Democrats including Ed Davey led a protest outside Conservative HQ against the dementia tax with ‘Theresa May and Co’ placards. Watch it here:

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Liberal Democrats set 10 questions for Theresa May on the “Dementia Tax”

Rarely has such an ill-thought out policy made it into a manifesto. The Tory proposals for what’s been dubbed a “dementia tax,” going back on previous proposals to set a cap on care costs for those who need care, don’t even seem to have the agreement of senior Conservatives. In fact, if the Sunday papers are to be believed, they don’t even have the backing of Theresa May’s two chiefs of staff.

Vince Cable outlines the main issues here:

The Liberal Democrats have today put 10 questions to Theresa May on the implementation of this policy. Her speech last Monday was initially presented as a u-turn. She then claimed in her Andrew Neil interview that it was anything but. Voters need to know exactly what this policy means before they go to the polls in 11 days’ time.

The questions are:

1. At what level will the cap on care costs be set?

2. How will it be uprated? Will it be in line with house prices?

3. Does the £100,000 floor apply to households or individuals?

4. Will the cap and £100,000 floor apply to care costs only, or will it also include accommodation costs?

5. Will people still need to pay an arrangement fee and interest for care costs, and if so how will these charges be set? The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM) currently charges 2.25% interest and a £900 set up fee plus £300 a year.

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Brian Paddick writes…A gap has opened up and we need to exploit it

Following on from Theresa May’s promise of a free vote to lift the ban on the cruellest of hunting with hounds, allusions to country sports seems to becoming increasingly apt.  On Monday, it was alleged that she had “shot our fox” by changing the Conservative manifesto to include “consultation on an absolute limit on what people need to pay” for their own social care.  In fact Theresa May has shot herself in the foot.

If we had deliberately set an ambush for the Conservatives, we couldn’t have done a better job.  The Tories had already broken a promise in their 2015 manifesto by not implementing the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission.  Instead, what had been agreed across all political parties, to put a limit of £72,000 on what any anyone would have to contribute to their social care was deferred until 2020.  Even then, £118,000 of assets would be protected.

Instead, in the 2017 Conservative manifesto, the Tories say they would introduce a “dementia tax”, where all your assets, except the last £100,000, could be taken to fund your social care, including your home.  Those lucky enough to be amongst the 1 in 4 who need little or no social care would be able to pass all the benefits of a lifetime of work to their children, while the 1 in 10 whose social care costs exceed £100,000, could be left with little for their loved-ones to inherit.  Instead of society sharing the risk, those unlucky enough to get dementia would have to bear the whole cost of their care without limit.  In the face of mounting criticism, until yesterday, the Tories were “strong and stable” – when asked specifically whether there would be a cap on individual contributions to social care, the answer was a definite “no”.

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