Umbrella group for charities says Government does not grasp urgency of crisis

The social action agency of the bishops’ conference has criticised the Government’s white paper on care for elderly people.

Catholic Social Action Network (CSAN), an umbrella body for Catholic charities, said the Government was “delaying essential decisions” and had not grasped the urgency of the crisis.

The white paper, published today, accepts in principle that there should be a cap on the amount people have to pay towards nursing home fees and that there should be a rise in the threshold for receiving means-tested help – both recommendations put forward by the independent Dilnot commission last year.

But the paper, which was billed as the biggest shake-up of social care since 1948, does not commit to a specific cap or threshold. It said, instead, that a range of different options would be examined. The Dilnot commission, led by economist Andrew Dilnot, recommended a cap of £35,000.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, also announced today that the Government is considering a voluntary scheme that would allow people to “opt in” to social care insurance, paying premiums to the state so that later costs for care and accommodation would be capped.

A spokesman for CSAN said: “While the commitments to the ethos of the Dilnot report are very welcome, we are concerned that the government is delaying essential decisions on taking these forward. Thousands of older people are currently being forced to sell their assets to meet unlimited care costs and they deserve more than just vague agreements on principles.

“We understand the significant financial implications of the recommendations, but feel this white paper does not adequately address the urgency of the current crisis in the care system.”