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Is further delay in capping the cost of care inhumane?

Updated: May 10, 2023

In his ‘Autumn Statement’ Jerry Hunt the chancellor said” To show compassion to the needy and the most vulnerable is the measure of every civilised society”. Although he may claim to have shown compassion by raising the living wage, helping pensioners by keeping the ‘triple lock’, and raising other benefits; to people seeing their savings being whittled away on the cost of residential care he is seen as being far from being compassionate.


Delay in the introduction of the Dilnot recommendations


It is hard to believe that a decade has passed since Sir Andrew Dilnot was commissioned by the then Coalition Government to look at how to protect the public from the risk of sky-high care bills, although the paving clauses for implementing the cap on catastrophic care costs which Sir Andrew recommended are in statute, they are still to be actioned – the Coalition Government and its Conservative successors having decided that bringing them to life would be too politically difficult and/or pricey.


The ‘Autumn Statement ‘saw the announcement of further delay of another 2 years that will take us past the next election. This is despite the former prime minister Boris Johnston taking great pains to declare on the steps of Downing Street following his triumph at the 2019 General Election. “We will fix the social care problem, and no one will need to sell their homes in future”.


I find it somewhat galling to think about Jerry Hunt in his role as former Chairman of the Parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee, who could so easily be accused of waxing lyrical about the need to implement the cap on care costs. Often pleading with the Government to get on with it. But cometh the hour cometh the man. When he had the opportunity to do something about it, he declined.


The impact on people’s lives as a result of further delay


We will continue to see the erosion of people’s savings that were put aside for a comfortable retirement being used to pay for care home fees. There will be an increase in the level of frustration and worry of those who have to pay (those with savings) and those who do not (those with no savings). You will see older people remain in hospital receiving care at no cost.


The cap on care fees is not just about putting money into people’s pockets it’s about equity and fairness.


Above all you will see many carers at their wit’s end seeing their life savings diminish and a considerable drop in their quality of life. Wondering why they bothered to save at all.


Inhumane


Plans to delay the introduction of a financial cap to protect vulnerable people from massive care costs that are not covered by the NHS have been described as “inhumane” by the architect of the proposals, Sir Andrew Dilnot.


Dilnot was more direct in his criticism of the decision to delay implementing the social-care cap.


“It’s a tragedy,” he said, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.


“We have breached a promise that we made to people, but we’re doing nothing about the long-run balance between tax and public spending. This can’t help the government’s long-run financial position at all.”


Dilnot noted that the Autumn Statement had been framed as “protecting the most vulnerable” and “demonstrating the British value of compassion”. He said the care-cap decision was at odds with those sentiments.


“We wouldn’t dream of saying to someone diagnosed with a terrible cancer that they were on their own until they’d spent the last £23,000 of their assets,” he said.


“We wouldn’t dream of saying that to someone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder who needed healthcare. Why on earth should we say it to people who need social care? It seems inhumane.”


Summary


Given the cost-of-living crises faced by the chancellor Jeremy Hunt, it is hard to argue that he was not faced by some very difficult decisions. But his claim that the aim of the Government to be compassionate to the needy and vulnerable in our society does not ring totally true. His announcement of a further 2-year delay on the capping of the cost of care is described by Sir Sir Andrew Dilnot as “inhumane”.


When it came to the crunch Jerry Hunt was found wanting and failed to deliver on the promises for which he so long campaigned. As a result of the Governments broken promise, many have not been treat with equity at all.


Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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