Social care review draws back from Dilnot proposals

 The Government’s review of social care has deferred its decision on the Dilnot proposals until cheaper options have been considered.

Instead of capping individual lifetime contributions at £35,000 in order to increase access to residential care, the coalition intends to consider a much higher cap and other potential solutions.

The decision has disappointed elderly care charities and patient groups, but will relieve NHS leaders who feared the Dilnot measures would be funded from the NHS budget.

A year ago, economist Andrew Dilnot (pictured) recommended that the Government invest heavily in residential care to reduce the costs of elderly care to the NHS.

The measures he proposed, which included capping individual spend at £35,000 and raising the means-tested threshold for contributions from £23,250 to £100,000, would cost £2.2bn per year.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said a cap was the “right basis” for change, but a decision would need to be made in the next spending review.

The Government will consider raising the cap to £75,000, charging an upfront fee for elderly people to ‘opt into’ the capping scheme, or funding it by cutting other benefits for the elderly such as free bus passes.

Measures introduced by the social care review, described by Lansley as “the most comprehensive overhaul of social care since 1948”, include: a ‘deferred loan’ scheme allowing the costs of residential care to be taken (with interest) from the individual’s estate after their death: and a national threshold for access to care, replacing the variable thresholds currently imposed by councils.

The Dilnot proposals are supported by the Alzheimer’s Society, whose Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes commented: “Millions of people had been promised radical reforms, but today they are being massively let down.”