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Cap on Care Costs

Volume 576: debated on Tuesday 25 February 2014

Everyone will be protected against catastrophic costs by the insurance that the cap will provide from April 2016, in line with the Dilnot commission’s recommendations. We are currently putting the legislative framework for the cap in place, and will consult on draft regulations and guidance to implement the cap in autumn of this year.

Best behaviour, Mr Speaker.

Does the Minister agree that greater investment in pre-emptive and preventive measures, such as GP annual assessment for those who are getting older, might keep the new old just a little younger?

I start by paying tribute to my hon. Friend for the work that she has done while she has been a Member of Parliament. I know that she has announced her decision to stand down, and she has done excellent work campaigning for elderly people and others in her constituency and beyond. She is absolutely right. The cap will, first of all, help people to prepare and plan for old age, which is an incredible advance. Also, the £3.8 billion better care fund is the biggest ever shift towards preventive health care and GPs will play a critical role in that.

What is the Minister doing to encourage local authorities to provide more places for care, particularly with the reduction in costs? Is he aware that local authorities are finding it difficult, because of Government cuts, to fund those places?

I am conscious that finances in local government are tight, but the better care fund, which I mentioned just now, has been widely welcomed. I was with a director of adult social care last Friday, who told me that his authority was planning to pool not just its share of the better care fund but the whole of its social care budget with the local health budget. That sort of radical, innovative thinking is exactly what we want and it will ensure that we protect services for vulnerable people.

Does the Minister agree that the steps that the Government are taking to reform the funding of care for the elderly represent long overdue action to deal with an issue that has bedevilled this world for more than 20 years? Tony Blair promised the Labour conference in 1997 that he would deal with it, and he did precisely nothing about it.

I remember the quote from Tony Blair well—he did not want to live in a country where people have to sell their homes to pay for care. However, over 13 years of the last Labour Government nothing happened. There were lots of commitments—manifesto commitments and so on. However, I am proud of the fact that this coalition Government are implementing reform, and it is long overdue.