Care fees a fairer future?

The current system for funding care is widely considered to be unfair and unacceptable. It can result in people having to sell their homes to fund their care and in the inheritance left to their families reducing to as little as £14,250. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people aged over 65 will face care fees in excess of £100,000.

The Dilnot Report is the most recent attempt to find a better way of funding the system. It proposes that the amount that an individual should have to pay towards their care costs should be capped at £35,000 and that no contribution would be required unless their capital exceeds £100,000. What has not been so widely reported is that, on top of this, individuals would have to pay a further sum of between £7-10,000 per year to meet the cost of their accommodation and general living costs. It appears that this contribution would be required regardless of their level of capital.

The report has been widely welcomed by charities and other interested parties as credible and costed. However, with an anticipated additional cost of £1.7 billion per year the response from the Government has been a little more lukewarm – they have cautioned that the cost will need to be weighed against other priorities and that trade-offs will need to be made.

With previous attempts to reform the system in better economic times having floundered due to a lack of political consensus, it would perhaps be optimistic to expect reform in the immediate future.

What is certain is that under the current system many people are not receiving the state support they are entitled to, whether from the NHS, their local authority or via state benefits. The rules are complex and substantial amounts of money, may be saved with a clear understanding of the rules. The families of those requiring care should seek advice at the earliest opportunity.

This article was written by Lee McClellan, Partner at Palmers Solicitors.

October 2011