Councils should expect enormous variations in the costs of implementing the Dilnot Commission’s proposals for funding adult social care, MPs were told today.

Mr Dilnot told the Commons’ health select committee that more affluent areas should expect much larger exposure to social care costs than poorer areas, if his panel’s plans for a national “care cap” were introduced.

As previously reported by HSJ, Surrey County Council has calculated the annual cost of implementing the full range of the commission’s proposals in its area would be around £102m, of which it expected to be liable for around 40 per cent under current funding arrangements.

Asked by committee member Rosie Cooper what proportion of funding  would be a fair national/local split, Mr Dilnot said he expected the figure to “vary enormously across the country”.

“In Surrey, the proportion of self-funders is enormous because Surrey is a relatively affluent part of the country,” he said. “There may be other parts of the country - say the centres of large cities – where the proportion of self-funders may be much smaller.

“The impact of proposals like this would vary radically between a rich part of the country, where a significant difference would be made, and a relatively less well-off part of the country where the difference would be much smaller,” he said. “There isn’t a number that we could apply to local authorities.”

Mr Dilnot also told MPs that the year-long research that culminated in the publication of his social care funding proposals in July had shed interesting light on the depth of councils’ social-care cutbacks this year.

“One of the striking things about spending in this area is that one of the reasons it’s been hit so hard in the last year is that it seems local authorities were actually spending more than they were allocated,” he said.

“When their over-all budgets were cut, that meant that their social care budgets were hit particularly hard.”

Quizzed about the potential to raise his panel’s proposed £35,000 “care cap” to limit service users’ liability, Mr Dilnot said there was room for flexibility on the exact level.

But he added: “If it goes much beyond £50,000-60,000, it won’t mean much to the population as a whole”.

The government is due to respond to his proposals in the spring.