A bill before parliament aims to give older and disabled people choice over where they live, but financing long term care still remains unclear.
The Disabled Persons (Independent Living) Bill, introduced by Lord Ashley, aims to empower people to determine their own living arrangements in relation to the type of accommodation in which they live and who they share the accommodation with.
If the bill becomes law the secretary of state would prepare and implement a national independent living strategy in which local authorities would promote independent living, decide which people to allocate resources to and determine the amount required by each qualifying person based on their level of need.
Factors to take into account in this assessment would include the provision of practical assistance in the home and assistance with shopping, food preparation and meals.
Each qualifying person would have the right to specify whether to receive the resources as an individual payment to them, a delegated payment to a person who would manage the budget on their behalf, in the form of the provision of services by the local authority or NHS, or as a combination.
Under the bill the secretary of state may also specify reasonable circumstances in which local authorities could seek payments from disabled people in respect of certain arrangements or services provided.
But in determining a person’s ability to pay for support and assistance, authorities would not be allowed to take into account any disability benefits received by them as income.
Further, the secretary of state may state any income earned by a disabled person or any occupational pension shall not be taken into account in assessing their ability to pay a charge.
But the bill does not contain any proposals about how the overall scheme would be funded and it remains unclear how wider long term care will be funded in the future.
Tim Field, chairman of IFA Care, says he has great concerns about the funding of long term care and believes it is not high enough on the government or industry’s agenda.
He suggests there should be a combination of insuring for potential care costs and reinvesting assets to prepare for costs in later life.
But with regards to insurance, Field says the industry needs to find providers who are willing to come back into the marketplace and find a solution which would be profitable for them.
He does not think the issue can be solved by an “off the peg” product but states more lateral thinking is required, perhaps by getting product and service providers together in one room.
Meanwhile, Janet Davies, founder and managing director of Symponia, says the recent ‘shock’ headlines claiming funding for free personal care in Scotland is running out comes as no surprise.
She states: “The only true course of action for families with long term care needs is to seek professional advice from a specialist long term care adviser.”
Moreover, she believes it can sometimes be better to exclude ‘reviewable benefits’, such as personal care, from the financial equation altogether so families can plan ahead and know their plans cannot be thrown into turmoil if a local authority runs into difficulty.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Emily Perryman on 020 7968 4554 or email [email protected].IFAonline
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