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Government unveils support for elderly to pay for long-term care

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The coalition government has unveiled support for the elderly in paying for their long-term care, setting a cap on costs at £75,000. 

The cap is more than twice what was recommended by Andrew Dilnot in his independent review into how best to protect people from high and unpredictable social care costs.

Currently, no cap exists leaving many facing vast bills, with almost one in five older people facing care costs over £75,000. From 2017, the Government will pay for care costs incurred by individuals over this level, equivalent to around £61,000 when compared to the 2010/11 prices used by Mr Dilnot.

The Government will step in earlier to pay a proportion of residential care costs, with the threshold more than quadrupled. In future, people will no longer need to be down to their last £23,000 before they get help - the help starts at £123,000, as recommended in the Dilnot report.

Taken together the measures are expected to directly benefit an extra 100,000 people who would not receive support under the existing system.

The Government will also take forward other crucial reforms proposed by Andrew Dilnot including free care given to those who turn 18 with eligible care needs; and a lower cap for people of working age who develop care needs before retirement age

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said: 'This is a watershed moment for our country. For too long, the issue of social care has been ducked by successive governments, leading to an unfair system that has seen people selling their homes and losing nearly everything they've worked for to pay for their care. With us, that unfairness is ending.

'These historic reforms will give everyone the protection they want in their old age and save the family home. And they prove once again that despite these tough economic times, this government is determined to get behind everyone who has worked hard and done the right thing and aspires to a better life for themselves and their children.'

But RCN director of nursing and service delivery, Janet Davies, said: 'Social care is a system in crisis. While we've heard lots of talk and positive words on care costs it has been cold comfort to those facing growing care bills and the heartache of having to sell their own homes. The fact that the Government is now showing the political will to act is welcome.

'While the RCN is pleased to see the introduction of a cap on costs, at £75,000 we're still concerned about how many people this will help. We're concerned that too many will be left untouched and still face agonising decisions over how to pay their bills. 

'Hundreds of people already enter the care system every week. If it is to handle the added strain of an ageing population then we need to get social care funding right. We want to see everyone getting the help that they need.'

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