Welfare bosses fear reforms will be shelved

By Jessica Elgot, July 7, 2011
Nightingale's Leon Smith suspects the government "will stall"

Nightingale's Leon Smith suspects the government "will stall"

A leading Jewish welfare figure has voiced fears that the government will not "grasp the nettle" and implement reforms proposed this week by the Dilnot Commission.

Leon Smith, chief executive of Nightingale in south London, praised the report into long-term care, but believed the government was between "a rock and a hard place politically" on how to fund the recommendations.

"Those of us long in the tooth have been here before," he said. "Many such reports have been kicked into the long grass. I suspect they will stall, or order further consultation, or pick and choose bits they think are affordable. The suggestion is that we increase taxation to fund social care - in my opinion there's no way that will happen."

Chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot, the report recommends a cap of around £35,000 on a person's contribution towards their care.

It also recommends those in
residential care should pay a maximum of £10,000 a year towards their living costs, such as food and accommodation.

‘Social care is going to need additional funding’

Currently, they must pay for their own care if they have assets above £23,250. The commission advises raising this figure to £100,000.

Many care providers have applauded the recommendations. Mr Smith said the report was "excellent. The commission has completely understood
the issues.

"If somebody were to come into a care home and were to live there for a number of years, they will be in a much better position because the amount they will pay will be capped."

However, care homes and local authorities could lose out. "If an elderly person comes to Nightingale and is here for a year and their £35,000 cap on care costs is up within that year, then the local authority will theoretically take over paying for their care," he explained. "Our fees are £835 a week. I would be amazed if they would be prepared to give us that much. But that would mean the number of people paying our full fees would go down considerably. It could mean a lot more fundraising."

His concerns were shared by Manchester Federation of Jewish Services chief executive Karen Phillips.

"We feel there are many nuances yet to be interpreted and the report does not address the discrepancy between the true cost of care and what the local authority pays and how this is going to be funded," she said.

"The proposals indicate that more of our residents will be local authority-funded, which means we will rely more heavily on the third-party contributions from relatives of residents. We are currently working on our 'shortfall campaign', which has already increased the amount of income from relatives towards the cost of care of residents."

Jewish Care's director of care and community services Neil Taylor felt it was too early to assess the impact of the report but expressed worries about how it would be implemented.

"What is the biggest concern is that the government will not heed the recommendations, or defer the decision. Even under the recommended timetable, this will not be implemented until 2015.

"This is an issue that needed to be sorted a long time ago. There's many ways the government could do it, but you can't escape the fact that social care is going to need additional funding," he noted.

"We do welcome the commission's report. It's a very complex and sensitive area.

"People will still have to make a contribution to their care, but those that are highest risk will get the most support. This has to be a partnership between the individual and the state."

Mr Taylor welcomed some of the report's other recommendations, including a national set of eligibility criteria for social care funding - avoiding a "postcode lottery" - and commitment to funding adults with life-long conditions in long-term social care.

Last updated: 3:16pm, July 7 2011