The £2bn question:

Will Osborne agree to fund reform of elderly care?

Treasury could obstruct proposals to reform funding of social care

Health chiefs raised fears last night that the Chancellor, George Osborne, could veto proposals to overhaul long-term care of the elderly because of their £2bn-plus cost to the public purse. They warned that hospitals could face a crisis in the pressure of caring for an ageing population and that there would be more "terrible" instances of neglect and abuse of the vulnerable pensioners.

Moves to salvage a system which forces many older people to sell their homes in order to afford huge bills will be detailed today by the economist Andrew Dilnot. He will propose a cap of between £35,000 and £50,000 on the amount people have to pay towards their care in their last years – with the taxpayer picking up the balance. His proposals would leave the Treasury with an estimated bill of more than £2bn – cash that would have to come from taxation or cuts elsewhere in Whitehall. Either move would be extremely unpalatable as the Government presses ahead with austerity measures.

A Liberal Democrat source has predicted that Mr Osborne will strangle the proposals "at birth" – a fear reflected privately by senior figures in the health and charitable sector. Treasury sources insisted they would not kick the Dilnot plans into the long grass and were keen to go ahead with reform – but stressed that they would act only on the basis of consensus with other parties and groups representing the elderly.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, warned there were many practical problems to be resolved before the Government could present its final recommendations, although he said he would accept the proposal for a cap.

Mike Farrar, the NHS Confederation's chief executive, described today's publication of Mr Dilnot's plans as a "make-or-break moment" both for health and for social care. "The enormous pressures that are facing social care will spill over into the NHS unless there is action to shore up the whole system," he said. "We need a solution. Otherwise there will be a financial crisis, patients and carers across the country will suffer and the cost to the taxpayer will be greater."

He challenged political leaders to take difficult decisions now to ensure the public knew how much they needed to contribute towards their social care.

Andrew Chidgey, head of policy for the Alzheimer's Society, said the charity had seen reports suggesting Mr Osborne and Treasury ministers were baulking at the cost of the plans. He added: "If politicians fail to tackle this vital question of public interest it will be a betrayal of millions of people."

Treasury sources said last night there was no question of ducking the hard questions set out by Mr Dilnot and acknowledged the extra cost of care would have to be found through taxation or cuts to other services. One possible alternative is that it could be found in the next public spending review. They said Mr Dilnot's recommendations contained many positive features, notably the new protection for middle-class families above the assets threshold.

But they stressed a new stable system for social care had to be agreed on all sides and welcomed an offer yesterday from Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, to participate in all-party talks on the issue. They argued that consensus was essential to reassure insurance companies offering policies to cover care costs that an incoming Labour government would not rip up the new system.

The Dilnot recommendations are expected to suggest a sliding scale of between £35,000 and £50,000 on the limit pensioners pay towards their care. They would be urged to take out insurance to cover that expense. At the moment, bills can exceed £100,000 for prolonged periods in residential care.

At present, people with assets totalling more than £23,250 have to contribute towards their care; that limit is likely to be raised to around £100,000.

The report is understood to recommend that free care levels be calculated on the basis of rates paid by local authorities. That means families could have to pay the balance if an elderly person is living in a more expensive residential home and that care bills might only be picked up when the threshold of £35,000 to £50,000 of care is reached at council-set rates.

Mr Lansley said the Government would give the Dilnot blueprint a "very positive response" and treat it as the "basis for engagement".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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 General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'