Only the wealthy would gain from new Tory policy for older people, warns The King's Fund

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Responding to the Conservatives' announcement of plans for long-term care for older people, The King's Fund senior adviser on health and social care Janice Robinson said:

'The Conservatives' decision to hone in on this important issue is welcome. Many older people worry about having to sell their homes to pay for long-term care, as our Care Services Inquiry shows. But this policy is likely to benefit only a small minority of more affluent older people.'

At the moment, anyone with assets worth more than £20,000 is not entitled to free residential care. This forces many to sell their homes. These people would be entitled to free care under the Conservatives' new policy after they have paid three years' worth of costs.

Janice Robinson adds:

'Insurance to cover the cost of residential care is at the moment far too expensive for older people. The policy would be likely to lead to lower premiums as the government would pay for care after three years. But many home owning older people are asset rich and cash poor, they have enough trouble paying pensions and will not be able to pay insurance even if premiums are lower. Only the affluent minority will benefit.

'The three year cut off will not help many older people, who will die before they are entitled to free care. It's good to see the Conservative Party addressing the issue of older people's care, but this is not the answer.'

Final recommendations from The King's Fund Care Services Inquiry into care for older people in London are due in summer 2005.

Notes to editors

1. For further information or interviews, please contact Beverley Cohen on 020 7307 2632.

2. The Care Services Inquiry is a major King's Fund programme focusing on care for older people in London. Almost 200 older people, carers, local authorities, the NHS and care service providers and employees are being consulted.

3. The Conservative Party announced plans for long-term care of older people on 15 December 2004.

4. The Government has promised to publish a green paper on a new vision for adult social care before the end of 2004.

5. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through grants. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership and education courses; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.