Action on care costs promised by Cameron and Clegg
The coalition is committed to reform but doubts remain whether it will follow Commission recommendations
8th January 2013 - The Prime Minister David Cameron has backed proposals to cap the cost individuals face paying for social care, although the details of any likely reforms remain unclear.
It had been widely reported that the amount of money people in England must contribute towards the cost of social care services is to be capped at £75,000 - twice the £35,000 recommended by a commission headed by economist Andrew Dilnot.
However, the coalition government's mid-term review, published on Monday, avoided any commitment to specific figures.
The Dilnot commission
The Dilnot commission, which reported to the government in July 2011, called for a cap on the total amount of money an individual in England would have to pay during their lifetime towards social care costs. At present this amount is unlimited, but Dilnot recommended that the cap should be set between £25,000 and £50,000 - with £35,000 recommended as the most appropriate and fair figure.
After the cap is reached, the individual would have his or her care costs met by the state.
The commission also recommended that the means-tested threshold, above which people are liable for their full care costs, should be increased from £23,250 to £100,000.
Dilnot argued that changing the system would protect people from facing huge care bills that resulted in them having to sell their homes.
This week's announcement reaffirms the government's ambition to cap social care costs, but has so far avoided a firm commitment to changing the law.
At a news conference, Mr Cameron would only say that the coalition would announce plans for "capping the potentially huge costs of long-term care faced by many families today so that people can have the certainty to plan for their long-term needs".
Most organisations and pressure groups will be waiting to see the details when they are announced, but a spokesman for the Alzheimer's Society tells us by email: "Despite the rhetoric on the need to reform the rules on charging for social care we have yet again been left without any detail of how this will be done. People with dementia and other conditions are being hit with huge bills for inadequate care or care that arrives too late. They deserve to know an end to this injustice is in sight.
"Our political parties must provide clarity on how the financial burden on people who need care will be reduced both now and in the future. We also need to hear how the gaping and expanding funding hole in social care is to be plugged. Only then can we guarantee that people will receive the care they need, at the right time and at the right price."
Any changes on social care costs will affect only England. Similar rules apply elsewhere in the UK, although there are some variations.