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Concern at new levels of care home costs help
7:00am Tuesday 12th February 2013 in News
Only homeowners in smaller Bradford properties will be assisted by a Government pledge to help with care home costs, it was claimed yesterday.
The rise in the means-tested limit for state help – from £23,000 to £123,000 of assets – will be too small to cover those in larger homes, figures suggest.
And most of those wealthier people still paying for their own residential care will die before a new £75,000 cap on lifetime fees kicks in, Labour warned.
The warning came as the long-awaited £1bn package was widely criticised for being too little, too late – but ministers insisted people would enjoy “greater peace of mind”.
The new £123,000 threshold above which people must pay for care appears to rule out help for homeowners in semi-detached homes – but leaves hope for those in flats.
The average semi in Bradford is worth £139,636, according to Land Registry figures. But the average flat is valued at only £107,434.
Flat prices are even lower in Calderdale (£95,796) and Kirklees (£101,403), with similar values put on terraced homes.
Meanwhile, Labour leapt on the £75,000 fees limit – more than twice the £35,000 recommended by an independent review – to warn that only a minority would be helped.
Liz Kendall, the party’s health spokesman, said the cap would not kick in until at least four years of fees had been paid – yet the average person spent only two years in residential care. She said: “The vast majority of people in residential care homes would have passed away before that happens, if the cap is set at £75,000.”
According to thinktank Demos, only 16 per cent of pensioners will be helped by a £75,000 cap – compared with 37 per cent if the £35,000 figure had been adopted.
Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour MP for Bradford South, said: “This is good as far as it goes, but it is a very piecemeal approach when we need a co-ordinated one. It’s worrying that the £75,000 cap doesn’t include food and some other costs and it won't be introduced until 2017. Meanwhile, councils are making cuts and health trusts are in a difficult position. We need to go much further.”
Many Tories were also furious with the announcement, because it will be partly funded by dragging many people into liability to pay inheritance tax. That threshold will be frozen at £325,000 until at least 2019 – or £650,000 for couples – despite a 2009 Conservative pledge to hike it to £1m.
However, Keighley Tory MP Kris Hopkins described the plans to place a £75,000 cap on the amount elderly people have to pay for social care as “a positive step.” He said: “I think the Conservative-led Government deserves great credit for bringing forward this fully-funded approach to deal with the huge issue of the future of social care – something its Labour predecessor singularly failed to do. I’ve seen at first-hand how the nature of social care has changed over recent years. We are living in an era of limited public resources but also at a time when people are living longer.”