Health secretary Andrew Lansley has told a meeting of councillors that he believes the Dilnot Commission’s proposals on care funding reform are “regressive”, HSJ understands.
Mr Lansley made the comments last week while addressing a private meeting of Conservative councillors at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in London, a source present at the event told HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle.
The health secretary is understood to have also said that responding to the commission’s recommendations on how to meet the social care accommodation and other related costs of elderly and disabled people was not a simple “yes or no” issue.
The Commission on Funding of Care and Support, chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot, recommended in July that a cap of £25,000-£50,000 was introduced on the amount an individual pays towards their own care costs. The state would pay for care above this level, regardless of a person’s wealth.
Mr Lansley’s comments are likely to pose questions about the extent care funding features in next year’s social care white paper. The government’s response to the commission is now expected to be made in a separate document.
A King’s Fund report in March warned that recent trends in council spending on social care for older people “do not inspire confidence that services are sufficiently funded to meet future demographic growth or to support the NHS in responding to the same challenge”.
“This underlines the importance of the work of the Dilnot commission and the urgency of achieving a new funding settlement for social care,” it said.
Care services minister Paul Burstow told a public session of the social services conference that the government was committed to care services reform, but “how we pay for it is just one of a number of issues we are trying to resolve”.
Mr Dilnot said he was still optimistic his proposals would be adopted.
Speaking about his report’s proposed changes at a separate Surrey Council event earlier in the week, he also said: “Will it happen? I think there is an eight out of 10 chance.”
At the same event, Surrey strategic director for adult social care Sarah Mitchell said implementing the recommendations could cost the council an extra £102m a year, based on a cap of £35,000, and 20 per cent of Surrey’s self-funders qualifying for free care.