Prime minister reported to be considering a higher figure than one proposed by the Dilnot review in a bid to save money
David Cameron is in danger of acting in an “extremely foolish” manner if the government introduces a cap of £75,000 on the costs of long-term care for the elderly, Labour has warned.
In a sign of continuing divisions between the two main parties, the shadow social care minister, Liz Kendall, says ministers must implement a “carefully balanced package” drawn up by an independent commission.
Kendall turned her fire on the government after reports that ministers are to water down a proposal by the economist Andrew Dilnot for a cap of between £23,000 to £50,000 on what elderly people would have to pay towards the costs of their long-term care. Recent reports have suggested the government will raise the cap to £75,000 to save money.
In a speech to the Society of Later Life, Kendall said: “Andrew Dilnot put forward a very carefully balanced package of proposals. The government would be extremely foolish to squander the opportunity Dilnot presents to secure genuine, lasting agreement and wider public support. Labour is determined to put in place a better, fairer system for the future.”
Kendall warned of the dangers of raising the cap to £75,000. She said: “It is vital that people understand the Dilnot ‘cap’ doesn’t cover what the individual actually pays but to what their local council would pay – and the average local authority rate for a single nurse-care room in southern England was £470 a week in 2010-11.
“This means in practice the elderly person wouldn’t reach the cap for over five years. The average length of stay for residents in a Bupa care home – which includes state and self-funders – is around two years, and for homes like those run by Partnership UK which are entirely self-funded – is around four years. In other words, the elderly resident would be dead before they hit the Dilnot ‘cap’.”
Ministers are due to announce their report to the Dilnot report soon. Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, will set out his thinking on Thursday.