Age Concern chief warning

PUBLISHED: 14:08 24 June 2011 | UPDATED: 14:55 24 June 2011

The chief of Age Concern Exmouth has urged caution over proposals for people to pay insurance to the Government to cover £50,000 of care in their old age.

Care Minister Paul Burstow is expected to announce his elderly care plans this autumn, and he is expected to include a new insurance system with the Government underwriting all costs above £50,000.

The figure derives from the average cost of two years’ residential care.

A survey by the London School of Economics of BUPA-owned care homes found that the average stay of 11,565 elderly people was 801 days which, at £550 per week, is £62,936. Half had died within 462 days and because only 27 per cent lived longer than three years, early deaths would compensate for those who live longer.

But some opponents say that many elderly people will still be forced to sell their family homes, especially if both husband and wife have to go into a care home and have to find £100,000.

Age Concern Exmouth’s chief officer Steve Dace said: “While we would welcome this initiative, we would still urge caution.

“We believe people would have to understand what an insurance scheme would mean.

“Would it be means tested? Who would administer it? What would the costs be?”

Mr Dace said it was unclear if the scheme would be compulsory and he asked what the fate of pensioners would be if they could not pay.

“We would be interested to learn who will fund this, a central Government body or will this be passed to an already hard-pressed local authority?”

However, supporters of the elderly care plan say it is a responsible one because it would not cost the Treasury much.

But Mr Dace added: “That may not be the case for a local authority in the South West – a high retirement area for older people.”

By 2021, 37 per cent of the population of Exmouth will be over the age of 60.

“This could still turn out to be a post code lottery unless central Government is going to make a substantial contribution to stop that happening and avoid a burden on a heavily cash-strapped local authority which, by its very nature, will be selective on who can take up such a facility,” said Mr Dace.

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