UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Dilnot Commission misses golden opportunity to bring fairness into crisis-ridden social care system

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has described the long-awaited Dilnot Commission report into the future funding of long-term care as a missed opportunity to bring much-needed fairness and simplicity into a care system that is in crisis.

The NPC points to a number of areas where the Dilnot Commission's recommendations have fallen short of the expectations of older people, their families and carers:

Raising the threshold on assets to £100,000 before being liable to pay care costs will not prevent older people from still having to sell their homes in order to pay for care, as the vast majority of properties are worth more than £100,000

Introducing a cap on care costs of £35,000 amounts to just over one year's worth of care in a nursing home. Given that the vast majority of older people have care that costs less than that figure, it is questionable whether the state would need to pay any additional costs in all but a minority of cases

Suggesting that additional funding for care could be found by making older people pay national insurance places an unacceptable burden on a single generation - rather than sharing the cost of care across society as a whole

Introducing a higher threshold of need before someone can access care will leave hundreds of thousands of vulnerable older people without any support in the community

None of the proposals will end the means-testing of care, or address the urgent need to improve the standards and quality of care that individuals receive

Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: "The Dilnot Report has really created more heat than light when it comes to the social care debate. Nothing in the recommendations will end means-testing, improve standards or prevent people from still having to sell their homes to pay for care. The current care system is in crisis, yet these recommendations won't go anywhere near putting that right.

"Dilnot suggests that older people should be made to pay for the care of other older people - yet in every other part of our welfare system we share the costs amongst society as a whole. Given that these proposals fail to tackle the fundamental problems of unfairness, poor standards and complexity in the care system many older people and their families will feel the Dilnot Commission has missed a golden opportunity to improve the way in which some of the most vulnerable members of our society are treated."