Means test threatens care for the elderly

HUNDREDS of thousands of elderly people face the prospect of being unable to pay for the care they may need in old age, because of a means-tested poverty trap operated by local councils, experts are forecasting.

Many health professionals believe those with some savings or a small pension are most likely to face difficulties.

For many, the changes could force them to accept cheaper but far less comfortable - even unsafe - care.

The Community Care Act imposes a duty on councils to provide care for the elderly, of which 75 per cent must be bought from the private sector.

The typical cost of a nursing home is pounds 500 a week in London and the South-east, and pounds 375 elsewhere in the UK. A residential home costs between pounds 300 and pounds 375 a week. And the cost of care is rising at more than twice the rate of inflation.

Councils are allowed to apply their own guidelines on the level of help given to those in need. Although the amount paid for nursing care varies, it rarely exceeds pounds 250 a week.

In any case, only those with savings of less than pounds 3,000 receive the full amount a local authority may give. Those with savings above pounds 8,000 will normally get no help from a council at all.

Means-testing may also include the value of a person's home, unless a partner or dependent relative lives there.

Joe Hennessey, director of services for the Muscular Dystrophy Group of Great Britain, said: 'The number of people who, for reason of age or disability, need care and varying degrees of support, will continue to grow. Are the funds going to grow with that need? Not on your nelly] People will increasingly be thrown back on their own resources.'

Jeremy Oakley is marketing director of PPP Lifetime, a health-care company offering long-term disability and protection cover. Over the past two years, the company has been selling policies that allow clients to claim for permanent nursing or other care should they become incapacitated.

He said: 'The importance of similar cover is likely to grow for large numbers of people. Estimates now suggest that the number of pensioners will grow by 50 per cent in the first 30 years of the next century, from about 9 million to more than 14 million. They are also likely to live longer.'

For a monthly premium of pounds 26, a male aged 45 would receive a pounds 200 weekly lifetime benefit should he become incapacitated. Women, who live longer, pay pounds 28 a month. A lump-sum option is also available, whereby a single payment buys the same cover.

Mr Oakley conceded that despite the cover costing much less for younger people, those most attracted by the policies are people over the age of 60.

Among them is Stephen Eastwood, aged 69, and his wife Nancy, of Kettering, who recently took out a PPP Lifetime plan.

Mr Eastwood, a former Crown Court recorder, said: 'I am thinking about my in-laws' own parents. The wife had Alzheimer's Disease, although not for very long.

'Her husband hung on, but eventually had to go on to a home. The house was sold and it was just about enough to provide for him.

'We decided that if anything were to happen to us, we did not want to burden our children with the cost of caring for either of us. We pay about pounds 60 a month and would receive benefits of about pounds 120 a week.'

Another company offering a similar scheme is Commercial Union. Sandy Johnstone, marketing director of its Well-being scheme, said: 'Long-term insurance has very much been based on pure risk.

'If you die or discontinue your premiums you get nothing, which is terrible if you have just paid a large lump sum. What we have done for lump sums is added life assurance for the first five years of the single premium. On regular premiums, we introduce a paid-up value if they have made contributions for at least five years.'

For example, a woman aged 60 may be paying pounds 90 a month for pounds 10,000 of annual cover, rising by 5 per cent each year. If, after 13 years, she can no longer pay her premiums, her policy becomes paid up, but she will now receive pounds 7,400 of annual cover, rising by 5 per cent each year.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Arts and Entertainment
Stanley Tucci as DCI Eugene Morton, Sophie Grabol as Hildur Odegard and Christopher Eccleston as Professor Charlie Stoddart in 'Fortitude'
tvGrace Dent: Still, it's compelling and cinematically sublime
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

Arts and Entertainment
EastEnders actor Danny Dyer has been rejected from Game of Thrones three times
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee