Government plans to reform social care in the face of spiralling costs and an ageing population have been slammed as an “empty promise” by Birmingham’s social services chief.
Coun Steve Bedser, the Labour cabinet member for health and wellbeing, was commenting after a new Social Care White Paper was unveiled by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government.
Proposals include giving loans to pensioners moving into residential care so they do not have to sell their homes and a cap of £100,000 on care costs.
Coun Bedser while welcoming some of the proposals, was scathing of the white paper claiming that there was still no indication of how the country was to pay for care.
He said: “Today’s announcements by Government are a step forward, but not enough.
‘‘Good legislation, scheduled to be implemented in 2015 is an empty promise without the resources that are needed to repair Britain’s broken care system.
“Today’s funding paper delays the decision on the resources needed in the care system and, in reviewing the work of the Dilnot Commission, the Government has added further delay and uncertainty to tackling the question of how care can be paid for.
“So if you own your own home, despite hollow promises, you are still at risk today of your care costs taking all of your savings and there is no timescale for when Government will stop these catastrophic costs faced by one in every ten people.
“Not only does Birmingham face enormous risks from the Government’s failure to tackle the funding of social care, we have the largest cuts to spending.
‘‘We are already doing much innovative practice in our struggle not only to survive but to make an offer to our citizens that works despite the chaos of national government.”
Birmingham’s Labour leadership had a manifesto pledge to offer ageing citizens a ‘peace of mind’ bond to remove some anxiety over care in the city. Last year the review chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot recommended setting a cap between £25,000 and £50,000 to stop pensioners being forced to sell their homes to cover sky-high bills.
Mr Lansley justified the higher £100,000 cap.
He said: “Of course, if you have a higher cap you do two things – you reduce the cost but you also increase the incentive for somebody to take out insurance or a financial services product to meet that cost.
“But it is a balance and we are going to look at the whole range and the progress report sets out a range and illustrates such caps.”