CARE REFORMWednesday 9 May 2012
Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, the largest provider of homecare in the UK, responds to the Centre for Social Justice Report on social care reform:
DR ROS ALTMANN: CARE REFORM CANNOT ONLY FOCUS ON THE POOREST ELDERLY PEOPLE
"The care system is so clearly unfair and, with the numbers of people requiring care growing rapidly, this issue will only get worse. The view from the Centre of Social Justice that funding needs to be prioritised for only the poorest elderly people is not the solution to this problem. By targeting only the poorest, we are penalising those who have worked hard and saved hard for their future. Anyone requiring care with more than £23,250 in assets will be forced to use their savings or sell their home in order to pay for their care, while those with less than this amount will be covered by the taxpayer.
"Most people understand that they need to pay for some of their care, however it hardly seems fair for those who are judged to have a care need that doesn't qualify for NHS care to lose everything they have saved.
"There has been an overwhelming response from charities, companies and other stakeholders urging the Government to address the issues with our social care system. As the UK's largest provider of homecare, we would like to help address this problem immediately and get a system in place which provides a fair balance between people saving and helping themselves and getting help from the state. Andrew Dilnot has suggested a framework of proposals which we believe could achieve this aim and now the Government must act fast.
"If we focus only on the poorest, then those just above this level will remain vulnerable and at risk. Without reforming social care we will continue to see too many people in our hospitals and this will cost far more than the social care reforms being proposed. By increasing the means-test threshold to £100,000 and capping the amount each individual must pay, we will have a fairer system in which we can encourage care saving.
"The current system already focuses state help only on the poorest and it has failed. We need a new approach which can be explained clearly and which can be portrayed as fair. If a new system continues to focus all the help on those who haven't saved - and those whose needs happen to qualify for NHS rather than social care council funding - then we will be no further forward and the risks to the NHS will rise. The time to act boldly is now."
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