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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jeremy Hunt drops another clanger



People who have struggled with the cost of care in old age will continue to struggle. That is the real message of Jeremy Hunt to couples who are facing old age worrying what fate has in store for them. Many have been through the experience once or twice before with parents and relatives. Under the new plan they continue to face the same nightmare yet a cheery Mr Hunt has the cheek to announce: "as a government we want to back people who have worked hard all their lives, who have saved and done the right thing. The worst thing that can happen to those people is that by a cruel twist of fate they have to do the one thing they want to do least of all to lose their own home".

The average house price in England and Wales in December was £162,080. A cap of £75,000 per person is £150,000 for a couple with no time left to "plan, save or consider insurance" as suggested.  Mr Hunt said capping the overall costs would allow insurance firms to start offering affordable social care plans for millions of people for the first time but insurers have expressed doubt about the viability of the scheme which is to be funded by a freeze on Inheritance Tax, another broken pledge. People living in Wales face a double whammy finding that the extra taxes raised will go to fund a scheme in England for which they are not eligible without the introduction in Wales of a similar scheme or a redistribution of funds.

Elderly people belong to a generation when it was common for wives to devote themselves to motherhood, nurturing the family on a tight budget before having to devote themselves to caring for elderly parents. There was no second income or easy credit available and no second pension to cushion their old age. Home ownership was seen as their reward for thrift, a nest egg for the family but many have already seen their inheritance disappear after struggling with the enormous costs of care. Those same people remain in the trap because the new scheme, such as it is, will take time to come into effect. So what we have from Mr Hunt is more political posturing allowing ministers to claim that people will not have to sell their homes to pay for care when the opposite is true for the elderly today because the scheme is directed towards the future when the expectation is that people will have had time to fund their care. As usual, those with no inclination for thrift or planning will be paid for by the rest of us so it would be more sensible if we all paid into a care fund so that those who need it are cared for while those who don't can count themselves fortunate.

Such a scheme has been proposed by the National Pensioners Convention (NPC). Listen to their spokesperson here and complain to your MP about this continued injustice. 

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