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County council in plea to government over care for the elderly
HAMPSHIRE councillors have joined together in a call for Government action to tackle the care funding crisis for the elderly.
The Tory majority on the county council backed a motion by Councillor Alan Dowden, Liberal Democrat opposition spokesman for adult social care, who said the time for “commissions and reports” was over.
Instead the Baddesley councillor urged ministers to implement without delay the recommendations of Andrew Dilnot an economist tasked by the Prime Minister with solving the problem of funding care for the elderly.
Currently only those whose assets, including their home, are worth less than £23,000 receive state help.
As a result, thousands are forced to sell their homes to pay care home bills. Meanwhile those who remain living in their own properties face losing nearly all their savings to pay for home carers. Some pensioners in wheelchairs may have two carers visit four times a day.
Cllr Dowden urged ministers to implement Dilnot's proposal for a cap on individual costs of £35,000 and to raise the threshold at which people have to contribute to their own care to £100,000.
It is estimated that implementing the Dilnot proposals could cost more than £1.7billion at a time of spending cuts.
Cllr Dowden also called for extra funding for local authorities to cope with the increased demand for social care from a growing elderly population, including dementia sufferers. In particular, to provide more money for preventative services, such as meals on wheels and extra care housing - that is sheltered housing with support available on site.
Now leader of the council Ken Thornber has published a letter to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, backing the unanimous call for urgent action.
In the letter, the Conservative council leader said: “We would strongly urge the Government to implement Dilnot's recommendation of a cap on an individual's contribution to their care costs and also raising the upper threshold for means testing.”
Mr Thornber went on “...we are aware of the need for Government to act prudently in the current fiscal climate. However, the country's social care challenges need to be tackled.”