Andrew Lansley had indicated government would ignore recommendations on funding of care and support
The amount of money that people will have to pay towards the cost of their care in old age could still be capped at £35,000 after an apparent U-turn by the coalition government.
The Dilnot Commission on funding of care and support recommended the £35,000 limit on the cost to the individual when it published its findings in July last year, but ministers including the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, indicated last month that the proposal would be shelved because of the £2bn cost to the Treasury.
But now the plans have been revived, according to a senior Whitehall source who confirmed the government was planning to implement the Dilnot recommendations, but claimed they had never been officially off the table.
They will be formally announced in the autumn as part of a coalition relaunch and will be included in a care and support bill. A draft version has already been published and will now be amended to accommodate the Dilnot recommendations.
Intensive discussions have been going on behind the scenes between Downing Street, the Department of Health and the Treasury to finalise the details of the scheme which could be implemented as early as 2017. The plans were discussed by the quad – David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Danny Alexander – at a dinner last Friday night, according to reports.
Under Dilnot’s plan, the “asset threshold” over which people would have to contribute to the cost of their care in old age would rise from £23,350 at present to £100,000. There would also be a £35,000 “lifetime cap” on costs, after which the state would pick up the bill for care.
This would allow individuals to buy insurance to cover the £35,000 initial outlay and save them from having to sell assets, such as their house, to pay for care costs.
In July, Lansley announced the government was considering a voluntary scheme in which elderly people would pay insurance premiums to the state to ensure their costs for care were capped, rather than Dilnot’s universal limit.
However, Cameron told senior Tories including Lansley that he was determined to press ahead with the plan and then informed the full cabinet at a meeting before the summer break.
The senior Whitehall source confirmed that the Dilnot conclusions were still under discussion but added that the plan had remained on the table, despite statements from senior ministers including Lansley that it would not stand.
“There has been a misconception that it was killed off. It wasn’t,” he said.
Last week, Clegg said: “I personally have felt we should go further and faster to deliver a properly funded system of social care for the elderly. That’s maybe something we can give an extra push to.”