Care Review Bureau - News

Elderly ‘must expect to sell their homes to pay for care’

April 14th, 2011 | The Telegraph

Pensioners should expect to sell their homes to pay for care, a Government commission has been told.

The Commission on Funding of Care and Support collated evidence on the system from hundreds of organisations and concluded that free care is unrealistic.

Andrew Dilnot, the commission’s chairman, said the only solution which was truly sustainable “is going to come from responsibility being shared between the individual and the state.”

But the commissioners were told that urgent reform is needed because young people are taking so long to get onto the property ladder that future generations could be less able to pay for their care.

The commission voiced concerns that more people are retiring before their mortgages have been paid off while people with debilitating conditions and disabilities are living longer.

Spending cuts are also threatening services for the vulnerable, the commission noted.

The so-called “sandwich generation” is faced with a triple challenge of attempting to fund children through university or into their first home, saving for their own care, and paying for assistance for elderly relatives, the evidence to the commission said.

In February, Lord Warner, a Labour peer who is part of the commission, said the post-war baby boom generation, which “had done pretty well for itself”, needed to use its property wealth to pay for care in old age.

The commission, which is an independent body, was set up by the Government to recommend improvements to the care system.

More than 250 organisations and powerful individuals, including local authorities, charities and think tanks, responded to its call for evidence, the results of which were published yesterday.

It said: “In terms of the use of housing, some voiced the view that individuals should expect to use some of their housing assets to pay for care.”

The responses identified severe flaws in the system, including: inefficient links between health and social care services; a lack of information and support to help people plan for care; no national framework for assessment and eligibility; inflexibility in the delivery of services; and insufficient recognition of the contribution of carers.

&rduqo;The current structure of the adult social care system is unfair, as people may have to use up most of their income and assets paying for care and can be left with very little income to live on,” it said.

The report noted “the increasing number of people with outstanding mortgage debt at retirement; and those renting properties in retirement”.

One particular challenge is “the difficulty younger people now face in buying property”, it said, noting that this could mean “future cohorts could have less housing wealth”.

Debt is increasingly being spread “across generations”, with parents helping their children with mortgages and some housing debts taking more than one generation to pay off.

A place in a nursing home costs an average of £36,000 per year but people with assets of over £23,250 currently receive no assistance from the Government.

Many in the system also fear that Government cuts will remove more vulnerable people from care, as well as reduce funding for preventative measures which keep elderly people in their own homes, such as mobility programmes.

Further, there were claims of problems between the care services and the NHS and there was evidence of “poor working relationships, a lack of understanding between professionals, and disputes between the NHS and local authorities”.

There were also concerns that the Coalition’s proposed health reforms might undermine integration.

In the current system, “the negative aspects outweighed the positive”, it said, adding that there is a “sense that the status quo could not continue and urgent form was required”.

The Commission is due to report back to the Government by the end of July with its recommendations.

Before the election, all three main parties pledged to stop pensioners having to sell their homes to pay for social care but figures last year disclosed that nearly 60 pensioners a day were doing so.

One of the pressures on social care is that people are living longer. An estimated 17million of those alive today will live to be 100 and experts predict that by 2026 the care system will be suffering a shortfall of £6billion without reform.

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