In the latest development on the Care Bill, the clause compelling people with care needs to be referred to regulated financial advisers, was rejected. Fiona Murphy looks at the issues.
One of the most significant opportunities for financial services with the passage of the Care Bill has been the chance for greater involvement. In January earlier this year, speaking at the Society of Later Life Advisers’ conference entitled ‘The Value of Advice’, care minister Norman Lamb said advisers would come ‘centre stage’ in the reforms.
He told adviser delegates: “This is where critically you come in. How that person can make best use of the resources they have available to them. Your role in this landscape we’re going to design is completely critical. You come centre stage.”
However, just over six months on, the role of financial advice is experiencing a rocky ride. Recently, in the House of Lords, at a committee debate, amendments to the Care Bill to refer people with long-term care needs to regulated independent financial advisers were rejected.
Without this amendment, under Clause 4 councils need only refer people to “independent advice” for example, charities and other organisations that may provide information.
At the session, health minister Earl Howe concluded there was no need for the bill to set this out specifically as other kinds of advice may be more relevant, independent advice is a ‘matter of personal choice and this is important because some advice may be “subject to a charge.”
He said: “The fact that an organisation or individual is regulated is in itself no guarantee that the person has knowledge or experience of wider care and support issues; for example, housing or other care-related options.
“The local authority should advise about the importance of independent regulated advice and signpost the adult to offer a choice of where they can obtain the best and most relevant advice. Again, we intend to cover such issues in statutory guidance.”
Immediately following this outcome, Symponia managing director Janet Davies described the latest decision as ‘misguided’ and ‘just plain wrong.’
She said to omit services offered by advisers because there may be a charge was “insulting” and that you cannot put a price on safeguarding a lifetime’s worth of accumulated assets.
Where does the future for long-term care advice go from here? So far, it is losing momentum as it winds its way through legislative hurdles.
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