The government will this week back a cap on peopleâ€™s lifetime care costs but will not specify a figure for the cap, nor a timetable for introducing it. A funding reform progress report published on Wednesday will back a costs cap, but any decision on the figureÂ is likely toÂ be delayed until the next government spending review due in late 2013 or 2014.
TheÂ government-commissionedÂ Dilnot report last yearÂ proposed a cap on lifetime care costs of Â£35,000 which, if implemented now, would cost Â£1.7bn a year.Â But the Treasury is believed to be concerned at the cost of such a move.Â SpeakingÂ to BBC Radio 4â€™s Today programme on Saturday, health secretary Andrew Lansley said: â€œWe have said that we support the principles of the Dilnot commission and we do wish to take those forward. [But] we need to establish consensus not just that the principles are right but on how we pay for it.â€
The news drew concern from social care leaders who criticised the delay in the implementation of the reform and the lack of any apparent commitment to addressing existing funding pressures in the care system – a separate issue to implementing a cap.
â€œThe need to prioritise spend in this area is pressing and waiting for the next spending review is absolutely unacceptable,â€ said Bridget Warr, chief executive of the United Kingdom Homecare Association. â€œThese reforms will take several years to become effective and there is also the immediate problem of how services for older and disabled people can be delivered in the current spending round.â€
â€œDelay is not an option,â€ said Carers UK chief executive Helena Herklots. â€œFamilies are feeling the impact of the crisis in social care now – in crippling care bills, poor quality care or simply being left without support, pushed to breaking point caring for ill or disabled loved ones.Â To recognise the urgency of this challenge and the desperation and fear caused by each day of delay, families will demand an urgent timetable to implement the reform needed.â€
The news has also triggered the breakdown of cross-party talks on funding reform. Even though Labour also supports a care costs cap, it wanted the government to produce a cross-party progress report on funding, rather than a coalition report, as Wednesdayâ€™s paperÂ will be. It also criticised the lack of a timetable for implementing the cap.
The funding progress report will be published alongside a White Paper setting out reforms to adult social care law and practice, including the introduction of statutory adult safeguarding boards and, it is predicted, a nationalÂ system of eligibility and assessment for care to end the so-called postcode lottery.
Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station: Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle: ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45