Elderly in fear of losing home to pay for care

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AN MP has pledged to back a cap to offer some protection to elderly residents who fear losing their home and savings to pay for their future care.

Currently, those with assets, such as a house or savings can be forced to ‘spend’ those first before local authorities pick up their bill for their care.

The Government has been accused of dragging its heels over a long-awaited white paper on social care reform after the economist it appointed to look into the matter, Andrew Dilnot, suggested the amount people pay towards their own care should be capped at £35,000 – at a cost of an extra £1.7 billion to the economy.

That cost has led to some questioning if the reform will ever take place.

But Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley has said he will back a cap, albeit not necessarily at £35,000.

“I have had more than 100 letters over the past year from constituents who are worried that their only asset which is their house, might have to be sold in order to fund their long-term care in old age,” Mr Ruffley said.“It is a source of real anxiety. That is why the Government is at this moment considering the Dilnot proposal of capping the amount of money that an individual has to stump up from their savings.

“I certainly support the idea of a cap and I will be pressing ministers to get a move on with announcing what the level of that cap should be, whether it is £35,000 or a different figure.”

He will also write to health secretary Andrew Lansley asking for an announcement on when the white paper is to be published.

Mr Ruffley was speaking after the Bury St Edmunds Friendship Centre, a social group for the over 50s, voiced its concerns.

Its chairman, Jane Andrews-Smith, said: “People don’t understand how much care is going to cost them so they can’t plan for their old age.

“They are being forced to use their savings and sell their homes – they have been frugal all of their lives and never gone to the state for help.

“It condemns pensioners to a life of poverty.”

She called for a cap and said more money needed to be put into social care, while patients needed to be treated with greater respect to overcome incidents of ‘terrible abuse and neglect.’