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£60,000 cost of growing old under plans to double recommended care cap
Millions of pensioners could be forced to fork out £60,000 for their care in old age.
It is nearly double the £35,000 cap that an independent commission suggested the Government should introduce.
Chancellor George Osborne is understood to oppose the lower figure because of the estimated £2billion cost to the Treasury.
A report for the Department of Health now recommends the elderly should pay between £50,000 and £60,000 towards bills.
Ministers are looking at imposing the higher cap, meaning millions whose National Insurance have gone into Treasury coffers may still be forced to sell their home or use savings.
The disclosure comes as Health Secretary Andrew Lansley prepares to meet Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham and Lib Dem Paul Burstow for talks ahead of the publication of a White Paper in April setting out the Government’s plans.
Campaigners have urged ministers to stick with the findings of the commission, led by economist Andrew Dilnot, who said pensioners should have to pay the first £35,000 of care, with the Treasury picking up any further costs.
Michelle Mitchell, from Age UK, said: “The Government has made clear time and time again the nature of the crisis. Now is not the time to run away from radical reform by diluting the Dilnot recommendations.”
The Care and Support Alliance of charities including Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, and Carers UK – yesterday urged politicians to strike a deal, saying: “The unavoidable challenge the country faces is how to support the increasing number who need care.
“Social care has been put into the ‘too difficult’ tray by successive governments. These cross-party talks mean we are closer than ever to reaching a consensus on the future of the care and support system.”
Dr Ros Altmann, director general of over-50s organisation Saga, said: “The lives of millions of older people and the future of the NHS is at stake.
“Politicians in all parties have a historic opportunity to change the way care is funded in future, to help people stay in their own homes if they can, which is what they overwhelmingly want, and to save money for the NHS by caring for them outside the most expensive hospital settings.”
Elderly people in England currently receive free care if they have savings of less than £13,000. Above that, they have to contribute to the cost of help with washing, dressing or eating. Anyone with savings of £23,250 must pay the full cost and many have had to sell their homes.
Scotland provides free personal care for over-65s but it does not cover housework or shopping.