Mark Conrad 22 May 2017

Councils' approach to deferred payments could put social care plans at risk

The wide variation in the way councils use deferred payments for social care costs could put the Conservative’s new plans on ‘shaky foundations’, a former minister has warned.

The Conservative Party last week outlined a flagship manifesto pledge to make greater use of deferred payments to claw-back care costs from the value of family homes.

However, Steve Webb, a former Liberal Democrat minister in the Coalition government, said some councils have not entered into a single claw-back deal with residents.

He added that take-up for the scheme has been ‘patchy’ since it was introduced in 2015.

Mr Webb is now director of policy at Royal London insurance, which recently sent Freedom of Information requests sent to all 150 local authorities with care responsibilities.

FOI responses gleaned from 140 local authorities show that ten councils – including eight London boroughs – have not offered a deferred payment deal to any residents since 2015. A further 12 London boroughs have signed just a handful of claw-back deals.

Mr Webb said: ‘It is clear that there is already a lottery as to whether people facing significant care costs can exercise their legal right to defer their payments under the scheme.

‘Some local authorities clearly promote the scheme and alert residents to their legal rights whilst others appear not to be doing so.’

He warned the current Government that it must understand why the system is not working properly, or risk building a new care payments system on ‘shaky foundations’.

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