Ex-minister urges PM to force Treasury to reform cost of care

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A former health minister has accused George Osborne’s Treasury of blocking reform of elderly care funding.

Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow said delays in tackling the issue would leave older people feeling “betrayed” by the Government.

He urged Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to “take on the Treasury” and force through reforms to the way care is financed.

Mr Burstow, who lost his post as care services minister in this month’s reshuffle, said the longer the coalition Government “kicks the can down the road”, the more elderly and disabled adults and their families will lose homes and savings.

Last year a Government-commissioned report by economist Andrew Dilnot recommended placing a cap of £35,000 on the amount people would have to contribute to their care costs.

But in July the Government said no decision would be made on capping the sky-high bills pensioners in care homes currently face until the next spending review.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph Mr Burstow said: “For the thousands of families navigating their way through an often complex and confusing care system, reform cannot come soon enough.

“For too many, the experience is degrading, stripping them of their dignity and their assets.”

He added: “The longer the Government delays, the more older people and their families will feel betrayed.”

Mr Burstow said he feared the Government lacked the will to deal with the issue of the country’s ageing population.

“I fear the coalition could be tempted to put care financing back in the ‘too difficult to do’ drawer.”

It was “far from certain that the coalition has the political will to grasp this historic opportunity”.

Mr Burstow blamed Mr Osborne’s department for the lack of progress, saying: “The Treasury’s view is simple, kick the can down the road despite our rising elderly population.

“There’s no sense of urgency. No recognition that left unreformed there is no incentive for families to plan and prepare.

“In the view of mandarins there is no need for change, and certainly not yet.”

Local councils pay for more than 700,000 pensioners in care homes but a further 450,000 older people have to cover the costs themselves.