So, Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has pointed out that the government’s plans for funding residential care doesn’t include the ‘hotel’ costs of it.
For those of us that have followed this closely, this is not a revelation. This debate is about paying for care – board and lodging doesn’t come into it. When the green paper on adult social care funding was released last June, some people in social care pointed out that the proposals wouldn’t mark the end of people having to sell their house to pay for care. Interestingly, at the time, this was largely ignored.
Even in Scotland people in residential care have to pay ‘hotel’ costs – something which isn’t pointed out as often as it should be when people in England moan about ‘free’ care north of the border – and older people do still in some cases have to sell their house to pay for it.
But with the government set to shelve plans for the “Death Tax” this week, according to the Guardian, this seems to be the latest attempt to derail plans for reform.
Again, Lansley seems to be at the heart of this. While this smacks of another attempt at cheap political points-scoring ahead of the looming election, it does raise (albeit in a not-too-helpful way) a legitimate point.
One of the aims of any reform of adult social care funding, according to government messages when the green paper came out, is to eliminate people having to sell their homes. The options listed in the paper didn’t seem to do that.
It is still a problem – many voters see the practice as unfair and penalising those who have worked to own their own homes and leave an inheritance – and if it isn’t addressed many will see any white paper as a failure.
However, the green paper was only a consultation, and the white paper – apparently coming this week – may have a solution. We shall wait and see – and expect Labour’s opponents to seize upon it if it doesn’t.