A cap on “catastrophic” care costs is so crucial it should be the focus of a national campaign, the policy’s architect has demanded. Sir Andrew Dilnot called on the Government to find the “courage” to protect from the “terrifying fear” of losing everything to pay for old age.
He said: “I hear truly heart-breaking stories of people’s experience in our social care system.
“People are terrified and paralysed by the fear of losing everything.
“I’m baffled by the Government’s lack of action.
“A national campaign would be a good idea. We’re about 18 months way from a general election and that could be an effective time.
“This winter crisis has highlighted the problems we face. There’s a shortage of care workers who are very poorly paid and people left in hospitals because there’s no care for them available.
“We need to get together to make the system work. It’s on all of us.
“We have to take it seriously and campaign for it.”
Care home fees are up to £39,000 a year and rise to £55,000 if nursing care is required. Tens of thousands of pensioners are forced to sell their homes to pay the bills.
Experts say the sector is underfunded by £13billion and is struggling to fill a record 165,000 vacancies as local stores are better payers.
Sir Andrew, who led the Dilnot Commission on social care set up by then prime minister David Cameron, first recommended a cap on care costs in 2011.
Since then, he’s seen the introduction of his policy repeatedly delayed.
An £86,000 cap was supposed to be introduced this October but Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last year said it would not now come in until October 2025 at the earliest.
Sir Andrew, now warden of Nuffield College, Oxford University, said: “Ministers need to stop shilly-shallying about. It was deeply regrettable that Mr Hunt announced last year that reforms to the care system were to be delayed.
“Although he awarded more money, it was not enough, not the difference we need.
“When he was health secretary in 2013 Mr Hunt did press for reform and when he chaired the Health Select Committee, he did so with the zeal of a convert.
“But since he became Chancellor, no doubt with input from PM Rishi Sunak he has postponed again.
“It saved £1billion a year but social care reform offers much more bang for the taxpayer’s buck. The arguments for an introduction of a cap are very strong indeed.”
Sir Andrew credited then PM Boris Johnson for the 2021 health and social care levy funded by a 1.25 per cent National Insurance rise.
This would have raised £12billion a year with £5.6billion to social care in the first three years with the bulk going to clear NHS backlogs.
This came with a more generous means test and an £86,000 cap on care costs.
But one of the first things Kwasi Kwarteng did as chancellor in the short-lived Liz Truss government was to cancel the levy. Sir Andrew, 62, said: “We’re back in the starting blocks.”
He repeated his call for a social care insurance policy.
“We have insurance for our properties and car insurance, and private medical insurance.
“How we manage all our social care is something which reflects how well we’re managing as a society.
“Currently, government is not doing a good job of helping us do that well yet the overwhelming majority of us will need some kind of social care.”
Sir Andrew challenged all the political parties to up their game, saying they should say what they’re going to do.
He added: “Why can’t we get it right? We need to get it right.
“Let’s just do something bold and wonderful to take care of people.”
‘We spent £500k in eight years’
Sharon Clay saw her elderly parents spend between £400,000 and £500,000 on their care.
Miss Clay, 67, who lives in Hornchurch, Essex, had to resort to legal action to get funding for her father Jim Clay who spent two and half years in a care home before dying aged 84 a few years ago.
More than £30,000 was then spent adapting her mother June’s home so she could continue to live there safely.
But after Mrs Clay, 93, a former Sainsbury’s worker, fell over and became more frail, she was forced to sell her three bedroom house for £300,000 to pay her own care costs.
At the time of her death in January this year, Mrs Clay was spending almost £5,000 a month paying care bills.
“We ran out of money in 2021,” said Miss Clay.
“The bills went up between £200 and £300 a month every year, and her pension went up something like £3.50 a month.
“My mum had a lot of money from the sale of her home but she was stripped of every penny she had.
“Different governments have been promising for years to sort social care out, and credit to this one when Boris Johnson was prime minister for trying, but we lost everything.
“Over the last eight years, we’ve probably spent £400,000 – £500,000.
“When we ran out of money, social services wanted me to sign a piece of paper giving them total control over my mum’s life, including the power to take her out of the home, her home, and put her anywhere in the country.
“I didn’t sign but it was an awful position to put me and my mum in after spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on care costs.”
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