Welfare chiefs slam care plans

By Cathy Forman and Jonathan Kalmus, July 16, 2009
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A leading welfare chief has criticised the long-awaited Green Paper on social care, claiming the proposals will have a negative impact on the Jewish community.

Leon Smith, chief executive of south London care home Nightingale, believes that care homes could lose out if the plans are implemented.

On the proposal that elderly people should not have to sell their houses to meet care home costs, he assumed “that central, or more likely local government, would be responsible for administering the universal deferred payment mechanism. Will this mean that local authorities will fund a resident at their own rate? In Nightingale’s case this is just £458 a week instead of the £780 actual charge. Where is the money to come from to fill the gap?”

Mr Smith called for clarity over the funding of “people who genuinely do not have any money. Will the government pay the full cost of care to providers, as opposed to the relatively paltry amount they pay at present?”

A further implication for the Jewish community would be payment for kosher food. “Although legislation regarding funding of older people refers to the right of residents to have culturally sensitive provisions, no allowance has been made to cover these increased costs,” he noted.

Also expressing doubts about funding, Janet Lewis, chief executive of Heathlands Care Village in Manchester, said that while the proposed changes are “absolutely needed” she called for “clarity about funding. It’s so difficult for people to grasp what is funded for in social care.”

But she believed forcing people to pay £20,000 towards care on retirement, is unlikely to sit well with the Jewish community. “Most struggle with protecting inheritance. What will appeal to most people is the one that least looks like another tax.”

Mark Cunningham, who directs services at Manchester Jewish Federation, is doubtful people will opt for the proposed voluntary insurance scheme.

“When people retire the thought of investing £50,000 for care if you are a couple is an anathema to me.”

But, he said, aside from funding, there are other “good alternatives. Assisted housing with internet access, somewhere to park motorised vehicles and a subsidised local restaurant on site, is one great model I’ve seen.”

    Last updated: 11:21am, July 16 2009