Warwickshire solicitors Lodders are urging individuals concerned with care for the elderly and disabled to make their opinions known to the Government during a six-month consultation which has just been launched.
Sofia Tayton, a solicitor in the private client department, said: "The aim is to make care services fairer and more affordable but it will be interesting to see how the Government matches this ambition against a predicted £6 billion shortfall in 20 years."
The Government has admitted that the shortfall, which is due to the ageing population and resources that are already stretched too thinly, needs to be addressed now if a growing crisis is to be averted.
"By 2027, the number of over-85 year olds will have increased by 60 per cent. The Government has acknowledged that the community care legislation of the 1990s was well intentioned, but has ‘led to a system which can be over complex and too often fails to respond to people's needs and expectations’.
"Families are anxious that the current system is unfair as it penalises modest savers whereas those who have nothing get full state support, and can lead to them having to sell their own homes.
"A lot of the time this isn’t the case as they should qualify for having their care paid for by the NHS, but they have to fight for their needs to be recognised as health needs," said Ms Tayton.
The consultation is called "Putting People First" and each local authority should be making its own arrangements to collect the views of those in receipt of care, their carers and families as well as agencies and care providers.
Concerned individuals can make their views known on the Department of Health’s website (www.dh.gov.uk/en/index.htm).
Ms Tayton said: "At Lodders we deal with issues concerning ongoing care for the disabled and the elderly on a daily basis and we would urge all those who want to ensure that there is a fair and equitable system in place in the future to make their feelings known.
"It is important that we arrive at a system that balances the need for care of the elderly and disabled with both affordability and sustainability but also does not penalise those who have been prudent and built up modest savings during their working lives."
Lodders has specialists in community care issues as part of its private client team led by partner Martin Green.