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Q&A: what the long-term care reforms mean for you
The government has announced a shake-up of care and support for the elderly and disabled. It has not said how it will be paid for but fewer people will have to sell their homes while they are alive.
by Michelle McGagh on Jul 11, 2012 at 15:10
The government has published its long-awaited paper on how the provision of long-term care for the elderly and disabled will be made fairer.
The Care and Support White Paper and draft Care and Support Bill is being heralded as the biggest shake-up of social care reform since the 1948 National Assistance Act. It aims to consolidate a number of different laws to create ‘a single modern statute for adult care’, according to the Department of Health.
But what does it mean for those who require care and those who care for them, and how will it change the current situation?
Why do we need it?
People are living longer, which is good news. However, figures from the Office of National Statistics show the number of healthy retirement years is not rising in line with the increase in life expectancy. Men and women who retire at age 65 can expect to spend 56% and 57%. respectively, of their retirement in good health, and 58% and 55%, respectively, of their retirement free from disability.
If the average person only has just under 60% of healthy years in retirement, then the other 40% will be spent needing some form of care.
As people live longer, the number of years people will need to be cared for increases.
Two years ago economist Andrew Dilnot was tasked by the government to find solutions to the care crisis. He proposed a number of changes, including capping the cost of care for individuals at £35,000 and increasing the means-testing threshold for care to £100,000 – currently anyone with assets worth over £23,250 cannot get state help with care costs.
So what does the white paper propose?
The government has proposed a number of reforms. Please see the links to government factsheets with more information.
1. End of the postcode lottery
Currently, councils set their own eligibility criteria for social care meaning that the level of care elderly and disabled people receive, and the support their carers receive is a ‘postcode lottery’. See the Assessments and eligibility factsheet.
The government has pledged equal access to care and support across the country with the introduction of national standards that all 152 councils in the UK will have to work to.
2. Defer care costs until after death
Loans will be offered by local councils to help cover the costs of care. These loans will then be paid back from the estate of person in receipt of care when they die.
The policy will stop the need for people who are not entitled to state help to sell their homes to pay for care. Each year, 40,000 people sell their homes to pay for care. Taking out a loan will allow property to be kept in the estate, although interest will be levied on the loan when it is recouped by the council.
More about this:
More from us
- Long-term care reform delayed by funding woes
- Ouch! Long-term care costs set to hit £33,000 a year
- One in four middle-aged people care for elderly parents
- How to pay for long-term care of your loved ones
- You need to take responsibility for your long-term care
- People do not have a clue how much long term care costs
- Long-term care cap: who picks up the bill?
What others are saying
- Assessments and eligibility factsheet
- Charging and financial assessments factsheet
- The law for carers factsheet
- Personalising care and support factsheet
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