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Delayed reforms to social care would leave millions of pensioners to miserable existence says charities

Date: (10 May 2012)    |    

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David Cameron has postponed reforms to funding elderly care, prompting concern that millions of pensioners and disabled people will be “condemned to a miserable existence
The Queen’s Speech which promised for a “draft Bill” to be drawn up in the next year to modernise the legal framework for care homes and home-help services has all but left the hopes of millions of pensioners dashed.
The postponement of the reforms, to fund elderly care, by the Prime Minister has already raised concerns that millions of pensioners and disabled people were going to face a miserable existence.
Apart from the delay to the social care reforms other aspect which has not been mentioned was the most contentious aspect of how the funds would be generated for an ageing population of England which was growing rapidly.
Groups working for social care have criticised the Coalition for failing to address the “urgent” task.
Officials admitted that final legislation on funding was unlikely to be put before parliament until 2013-14.
The group of charities and campaign groups had sent an open letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to end the “lottery” under which some older people lose their homes and their life savings to pay care home bills.
Simon Gillespie, chair of the Care and Support Alliance, which co-ordinated the letter, said the charities were “deeply disappointed” by the lack of a full Bill in the Queen's Speech.
One of the Coalition’s first acts was to launch an inquiry into how to stop tens of thousands of people being forced to sell their homes each year to pay for support in old age.
Currently, no state aid is available to anyone with assets, including property, worth more than £23,500, while a care home place costs up to £30,000 a year.
Last July, the inquiry, led by Andrew Dilnot, an economist, proposed raising this means test threshold to £100,000 and imposing a cap on the maximum amount anyone should pay for care in their lifetime at £35,000. The state would then cover any costs above this level.
However, the Treasury was unwilling to provide the estimated £1.7 billion a year in additional funding that the Dilnot plan would require.
Labour has joined the Coalition in cross-party talks in an attempt to reach political agreement but has warned it will pull out if ministers fail to act.