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Dilnot Report on Funding of Care and Support

The Commission on Funding of Care and Support released its findings on Monday. The paper, also known as the Dilnot Report, discusses the provision of care to elderly, disabled and infirm adults in England.


The Commission was formed by the coalition government to analyse the current provision of care. It has been asked to suggest ways to improve what many people believe is a complicated and unsustainable arrangement. The current care system in the UK was put in place in 1948. Since then, the population has changed. People are living to an older age, and the average age of a British citizen is increasing.


The main problems highlighted by the report include varying provision depending on location - a system known in the media as a 'postcode lottery', where people living in certain areas will be more likely to receive help with their care than others. The Commission were also concerned at high exposure to cost of when care is needed suddenly, pointing out that someone who had assets of £150,000 could lose as much as 90% with no warning. They also looked into the lack of clarity around care arrangements and a general lack of awareness which causes many people to reach old age without a contingency fund. Many people currently (incorrectly) assume care is provided by the NHS.


The report also takes into account the shock and despair some patients and their families feel when care is needed, and the frustration of having to deal with a system which is seen to be outdated and unwieldy by those who need to use it.


Key recommendations of the Dilnot Report

Currently there is a threshold of £23,250 for care. If a person's assets exceed this figure, they are expected to pay the whole cost of their care arrangements. The Commission on Funding of Care and Support have stressed that the current means testing system is flawed. They have highlighted the protection of assets as one of the most important recommendations in the report.


If their report was adopted, no adult would pay more than £35,000 towards the costs of their own care in their lifetime. Anything beyond this £35,000 cap would be covered by the state, at a cost of between £1.3 billion and £2.2 billion annually. Only those with assets of over £100,000 would not receive state help towards care costs. In addition, anyone who develops a care need at an early age should be exempt from means testing, and the changes should not affect the current benefits system for disabled people. A figure of £7,000-£10,000 has also been recommended to pay for the basic cost of living while in residential care.


The Commission are keen to point out that this reform to the system would not only benefit patients financially, it would also relieve the considerable stress caused to those in care and their carers. It points out that anyone could need care at any stage of our lives, and one in 10 of us will need to spend more than £100,000 under the current system.

The Dilnot Report also recommends that patients are assessed using transparent and fair systems on a national level, rather than being assessed in their own catchment area.


To solve the problem of sudden costs, the report recommends that the government launch the new scheme with a media campaign to encourage people to save for any care needs they may have in future. This would be backed by integration with the wider healthcare system and an advice service for those who need clear and impartial guidance on their options. The report also suggests that insurance providers could begin to set up insurance products for those who are concerned about needing care in later life, or as a result of a sudden accident. At present there is no way for people to protect themselves in this way.


The Commission on Funding for Care and Support recommends that a new assessment system is introduced for carers to better understand their needs and to ensure the care they provide is manageable.


Plans for implementation of the Dilnot Report

The report covers adults and older people but does not cover care provision for children. An improvement in the system as a whole could benefit children and their parents indirectly by providing better access to support services and better integration with the wider healthcare system in England.


Most crucially, though, the Dilnot Report only recommends changes to the current system - it is not a guarantee of change. Even before its release, the Treasury appeared to be hesitant to make any commitments to reform based on its findings. At present, the English care system is very different to the Scottish system, and many experts believe a reformed system similar to the Scottish system would not be adopted in the current economic climate, simply because of the additional funds the government would need to find to support people in care.


Retirement Solutions are independent financial advisers and have expert care fees advisers that can talk you through the available options to fund care fees. Find out more information and download a free guide at www.retirementsolutions.co.uk/long-term-care/long-term-care-guide




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