There has been a great deal of coverage in the media this past week about care home fees. Whilst I understand the frustration people feel about their inheritance being eaten up whilst others have their care home fees fully paid by the local authority, there is a lot of misinformation floating around. For example, in The Times today, the claim that 50,000 people are being ‘forced’ to pay top up fees where the local authority funded contribution is not enough to cover their monthly care home bills. No-one can be ‘forced’ to pay a top up. People pay a top up when they choose a home that is more expensive than the local authority budget allows. Someone is only going to be being paid for by the local authority because they have less than £23,250 so where are they paying this top up from? They are not paying it, their family is agreeing to pay it as the top up has to be a sustainable contribution before it can be agreed.
Yesterday I watched a news article which claimed couple had been forced to sell their home so that they could live in a care home together. In fact the Care Act confers upon local authorities the obligation to offer people moving into care a deferred payment on their home so that it does not need to be immediately sold and can be rented out to cover some of the care home fees. The local authority will place a charge against the property and eventually take back their money when it is sold sometime in the future. If the partner had remained at home the house would have been completely disregarded.
This kind of reporting feeds into people’s fears and insecurities about the whole paying for care system, and gets right on my pip. Let’s have a proper debate with facts, not scare stories!