The UK Middle Class Care Bill Fiasco

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Author: Daniel Martin

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- Couples could face £150,000 care bill under new plans

- Cameron initially backed £35,000 contribution cap, now it could be £75,000

- Older people face selling their homes to cover costs

Middle-class couples who need residential care in old age could be hit with bills as high as £150,000.

Under Coalition plans to be unveiled in the New Year, the upper limit on the amount that must be contributed towards care could be £60,000 or even £75,000 per person.

This ‘cap’ is much higher than the £35,000 suggested by last year’s independent review into England’s care funding system.

If both husband and wife end up moving into residential care, it could mean they will have to pay out up to £150,000 before the state steps in.

In addition, they will still have to meet accommodation costs – the ‘bed and board’ charge for care home stays. This could push the total outlay to almost £200,000.

Critics say setting the cap so high will do little to stop thousands of pensioners having to sell their homes each year, denying their children an inheritance.

And they are likely to accuse David Cameron of letting the elderly down, as Downing Street has previously attracted positive coverage by backing the review’s proposal of a £35,000 cap.

At present, care home residents can be landed with unlimited charges if they have assets, including their house, of more than £23,500. Those who have no savings get care completely free.

Ministers have pledged to increase this threshold to £100,000, meaning people will no longer see their savings depleted to below this level.

But the benefit could be wiped out by the imposition of a cap that is more than double the amount that was originally expected.

In addition, it is understood that the new system may not even be put in place until as late as 2017, despite promises to sort the issue out before the next General Election, due in 2015.

At least 20,000 elderly people have to sell their homes every year to pay unlimited care costs.

Last year, a Government-commissioned report by economist Andrew Dilnot concluded that a lifetime cap should be imposed of between £35,000 and £50,000, with the state stepping in to pay the rest.

At that time, a senior Conservative source told the Daily Mail: ‘The Prime Minister said “We’ve got to do Dilnot. We’re going to do this”.’

Mr Cameron said: ‘I hope to be able to announce the way forward by the next election but we’ve got to find the money first. It seems to me absolutely vital.’ He added that he was confident the funding would be found.

But Chancellor George Osborne balked at the estimated £1.7billion a year cost at a time when he is trying to bring down Britain’s deficit.

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