Former health minister says care cap u-turn is an “outrageous betrayal” of the electorate

Norman Lamb at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norman Lamb at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Former health minister Norman Lamb has said Tory -u-turn to bring in a cap on care costs is an 'outrageous betrayal' of the electorate.

The North Norfolk MP spoke out after plans to introduce a cap on social care costs from next year have been delayed until 2020 amid fears over how councils would fund the move.

Ministers confirmed that the £72,000 limit on bills for residential care was being pushed back to the final few weeks of the parliament after 'genuine concerns' were raised about its introduction.

The cap was one of the key measures included in the coalition's Care Act to protect people from staggering bills and avoid the need to sell off the family home.

But earlier this month the Local Government Association (LGA) wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for the measure to be delayed, warning that the funding gap in adult social care was growing by a minimum of £700 million a year.

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Izzi Seccombe, chairman of its community well-being board, said: 'The announcement to delay the second phase of the Care Act is a positive recognition from government of what the LGA has been warning - that we cannot try and reform the way people pay for adult social care when the system itself is on such an unstable foundation.

'In an ideal world, we would have funding for both the system and the reforms, but we have to be realistic about where scarce resources are needed most,' she added.

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But Norman Lamb said if the Conservatives were not willing to pay the cap now, they never would.

'With an ageing population care costs are only going to go up year on year. This means that the disgraceful tax on dementia will continue.'

Under proposals revealed today, the government has also announced that changes to the means-testing threshold, which would have meant far more families receiving some help with care costs, will be postponed.

Charities said the move highlighted the strain the social care system is under and called for 'significant' investment to bring it back from the brink of collapse.

The cap on elderly and disabled care was set at more than double the £35,000 recommended by the independent Dilnot Commission in 2011 and does not cover accommodation and living expenses.

Ministers insisted, however, it would 'give everyone peace of mind by protecting them from catastrophic costs'.

Under the reforms, the limit on assets that stops people being eligible for help towards their costs was due to rise from £23,250 to £118,000.

Plans to oblige councils to help people who pay their own costs - known as self funders - find residential care are also being delayed.

Officials said the Government was still fully committed to introducing the cap within this Parliament but wanted to make sure it was workable from day one.

In a letter to the LGA, social care minister Alistair Burt said: 'We have taken the difficult decision to delay the introduction of the cap on care costs system and that this will now be introduced from April 2020.

'I want to assure you that this is not a decision that has been taken lightly, but one that has followed from consideration of the genuine concerns you have outlined.'

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