Charities attack plans for care of the elderly

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Medical charities have joined forces with pensioners' groups to warn that the elderly will be plunged into poverty by the Government's plans for long-term nursing care.

Medical charities have joined forces with pensioners' groups to warn that the elderly will be plunged into poverty by the Government's plans for long-term nursing care.

The new funding arrangements for care homes were "unfair and unworkable" and would lead to confusion, the coalition claimed. It includes Help the Aged, Age Concern, the Alzheimers' Society and Arthritis Care.

The rules, which will be introduced on Monday, will award some pensioners as little as £35 a week towards the cost of their personal care. The low level of subsidy would mean that people requiring help with washing, eating and other personal care would continue to have to pay from their own savings, said the coalition, called The Social Policy on Ageing Information Network.

Under the Government's proposals, there will be three levels of financial help, £35, £70 and £110, available to those living in care homes in England who need nursing assistance.

Even the top rate, of about £5,500 a year, meets less than a quarter of the real cost of living in a typical nursing home. The charities also claim the new system of banding will create a fresh postcode lottery of care because pensioners in Scotland and Wales will receive much higher levels of payment.

The coalition says the Government has broken its 1997 promiseto find a fair system of funding care for the elderly.

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