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Ministers duck social care funding reform

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Plans to overhaul social care in England have been met with disappointment after ministers refused to commit to a new funding system.

The government white paper, Caring for our future: reforming care and support, released last Wednesday, set out plans for new national standards on quality and eligibility for care.

It said that by April 2015 councils would be obliged to offer loans to people needing care, which could then be recouped from assets when the patient dies.

Although the independent Dilnot commission suggested a cap of between £25,000 and £50,000 on the care fees any individual pays, a “progress report” released alongside the white paper makes it clear that the government is considering a limit of as much as £100,000. The report says a higher cap had been suggested by “the financial services industry”.

The progress report said the government not commit to a cap unless “a way to pay for it can be found”. It is believed a cap of £35,000 would cost an extra £2.2bn to fund, rising to £3.6bn by 2025.

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Peter Carter said: “Nurses will be particularly disappointed that the government has failed to tackle the critical issue of social care funding.

“It is nursing staff who are currently dealing with the pressures of delayed transfers between hospital and community settings, restriction on services and confusion over who pays for what.”

He warned of a “revolving door” in care where some people ended up in hospital soon after discharge as there was no proper support in the community.

The white paper also sets out aims to bring in a new code of conduct and minimum training standards for care workers, and to double the number of care apprenticeships to 100,000 by 2017.

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