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The Big Care Debate


The Government has recently announced plans to reform the current system for paying for nursing and social care. Whether you find yourself in a position where you require nursing care or whether it is a friend or relative that has care requirements, the current system can be confusing and difficult to navigate and is often seen to be unfair. It is incredibly important that a simple and effective structure for nursing care in the future is put in place as current statistics show the average life expectancy has risen to 78 and there are now more people in England over the age of 65 than under the age of 18.

Under the current rules for funding residential care, if the service user has capital over £23,000 then they are obliged to meet the full cost of their care, subject only to any state benefits to which they are entitled such as Attendance Allowance and the Registered Nursing Care Contribution, the standard rate of which is currently £106.30 per week. If a service user has capital of £14,000 to £23,000 then their local authority will make an assessed contribution towards the cost of care. Once a service user's capital reduces to below £14,000 the full cost of care will be met by the local authority and the service user contributes their income, less the statutory pocket money amount of £21.90.

In the green paper "Shaping the Future of Care Together" Health Secretary Andy Burnham sets out plans for everyone in England to have access to a "National Care Service" that is fair, easy to understand and affordable.

It is intended that the National Care Service will create a level playing field and everyone in England will be guaranteed:

Andy Burnham is quoted as saying, "We are proposing a radical reform of care - this is the vision for a National Care Service. More of us are living longer - life expectancy is going up and advances in medical science mean that people with a disability are living longer. This is worth celebrating but does mean we need to radically change the way care is provided and paid for."

"We need a system that's fair, simple and affordable for everyone. A system that gives excellent care wherever we live and whatever our needs."

"Everyone will come into contact with the care system at some point - whether it is ourselves or our families and friends. The National Care Service must be shaped by the people who will use it so we want everyone to tell us what they think. Everyone should join the Big Care Debate today."

The green paper makes three proposals as to the future funding of care:

1. Partnership:

The responsibility for paying for care would be shared between the Government and the service user. The Government provides between a quarter and a third of the cost of care, or more for people on a low income. Bear in mind that the average annual cost for residential care is around £26,000 and for nursing care around £34,000.

2. Insurance:

The same as Partnership but the Government could help people to prepare to meet the costs that they would have to pay for themselves, through an insurance-based approach. As well as receiving between a third and a quarter of the cost of care, the Government would make it easier for people to take out insurance to cover care costs. It is estimated that the cost of insurance could be around £20,000 to £25,000.

3. Comprehensive:

Everyone who can afford it would pay into a state insurance scheme meaning everyone who needs care will receive it free. It is estimated that the cost of being in the system could be between £17,000 and £20,000.

The Government has launched the "Big Care Debate" and is encouraging everyone to contribute. People can contribute to the debate in a variety of ways, through the website http://www.careandsupport.direct.gov.uk/, through facebook and via leaflets with specific consultation questions, which will be distributed via GP surgeries, pharmacies and other outlets and these can be sent back to the Department of Health freepost.

The Private Client Team at Clarion are experienced in advising clients and their families about their choices when it comes to planning for and funding care. We often advise clients who do not agree with the assessment for funding that has been carried out on taking up a residential care placement.

We also offer specialised advice in connection with other issues that often arise around the same time, such as preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney, general powers of attorney and wills. We can advise clients who wish to consider giving assets away to family. If there are issues surrounding mental capacity, we can advise service users and their families about how to deal with these issues and plan for the future including assisting with applications to the Court of Protection. Our experienced and qualified team is happy to receive initial enquiries by telephone or email and will help to identify whether you require further legal advice. Please email privateclientenquiries@clarionsolicitors.com .

Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.