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75,000 cap on cost of care will lose thousands of pensioners their homes
01:55 GMT, 9 February 2013
07:02 GMT, 9 February 2013
Criticised: Lord Warner warned that setting the cost of long-term care cap so high could mean thousands of pensioners will have to sell their homes
A chief architect of plans to limit the cost of long-term care has criticised ministers for setting the cap so high that thousands of pensioners will have to sell their homes.
Lord Warner is warning that if a husband and wife both move into care, they could have to pay 150,000 before the state steps in – wiping out almost the entire value of an average house.
The peer sat on the Dilnot Commission, which aimed to safeguard elderly people’s houses by imposing a cap of about 35,000 – after which the state will meet care costs.
But ministers are expected to announce next week that they will set the cap much higher than that.
It has been widely reported that the cap could be as high as 75,000.
There were rumours yesterday, however, that the final level to be announced on Monday may be lower – 60,000, uprated by inflation in future years.
Lord Warner’s views undermine the Coalition’s argument that its reforms will end the scandal under which at least 20,000 pensioners a year have to sell up to pay for care.
At present, everyone who needs to move into a care home and has assets of more than 23,500, including the value of their house, has to pay unlimited charges.
Big bill: Lord Warner warned that if a husband and wife both move into care, they could have to pay 150,000 before the state steps in – wiping out almost the entire value of an average house
Lord Warner, who was a health minister under Tony Blair, said: ‘Essentially, we thought that the fairest way of doing this, and it wasn’t a precise science setting the cap, but we thought it was somewhere in that range, 35,000 to 50,000.
‘At that level, give or take, you would actually mean on average no-one would have to dispose of more than about a third of the value of their housing assets.’
Commission chairman Andrew Dilnot will not comment on the level of the cap until it is officially announced. The scheme could be implemented as early as 2017.