The architect of plans to overhaul the funding of long-term care for the elderly welcomed the Government's belated support last night – but urged rapid action to prevent thousands more lives being "blighted".
The Independent disclosed yesterday that David Cameron had swung behind Andrew Dilnot's proposal for a £35,000 lifetime cap on social care costs, to prevent families having to sell homes to pay their bills.
His government-commissioned report also recommended more than quadrupling to £100,000 the amount of savings people in residential homes were allowed to have before they had to pay for their care.
Ministers initially appeared to shelve his recommendations, but Mr Cameron has given them the go-ahead despite an estimated annual cost of £1.7bn.
One Whitehall source suggested Mr Cameron did not want to be outflanked by the Liberal Democrats and Labour, who were preparing to include the proposals in their next election manifestos.
Mr Dilnot expressed his delight at the Government's move, but warned that there was no time to lose in reforming the "broken" system of funding care for the elderly.
"I am very pleased – the reason I wanted to do this in the first place was it was both urgent and possible to make a difference," he told The Independent.
Michelle Mitchell, the charity director general of Age UK, agreed that the current system was "not fit for purpose".
She said: "At the moment individuals face catastrophic risk. They can work hard all their lives and if they need care – and that's often care with eating, with feeding, with supporting the care home – they can see all that they have worked for wiped away. It's not fair people aren't able to plan and protect themselves against this risk in later life."