Adult Social Care

Mark made the following contributions to a debate on the future of adult social care:

Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): Does the Minister not recognise that any cap, be it at £35,000 or £60,000, as was initially proposed by Dilnot, is likely within a very short time to be wholly inadequate, given the funding constraints that we are under? The harsh reality is that people who wish to preserve an inheritance for their children—that is an understandable desire—must recognise, as must their children, that those children will have to take on the burden of looking after aged parents, in both time and financial terms. It sounds like a hard truth, but it needs to be put on the record, because otherwise we are not going to get any further forward in dealing with this matter.

Paul Burstow (Minister of State (Care Services), Health; Sutton and Cheam, Liberal Democrat) The hon. Gentleman expresses an opinion that is held by many people, but the Government’s position is not to take that view. We take the view that a cap on care costs is an important component in a redesigned system for funding in this country. What we have said clearly is that we have to address how that is paid for as part of a spending review. That is why we believe that both a cap and an increase in the means-test threshold provides the necessary assurance for a family to plan and prepare for care, and provides the mechanisms by which the financial services industry can grow and develop to offer appropriate products.

Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster, Conservative) Is there not a problem with what the Minister has said? I understand that this is an incredibly difficult issue, which we all have to deal with. I have lost both my parents. One died at the age of 70, only 18 months ago, at a time when we were on the cusp of putting her into full-time care, which would have been ruinously expensive. Is not the problem with all this that if we put in place today any system with a fixed cap, it will almost certainly be superseded by events and will then be seen as unjust for future generations?

Paul Burstow (Minister of State (Care Services), Health; Sutton and Cheam, Liberal Democrat) The hon. Gentleman identifies one of the issues associated with the design of the introduction of a cap. It is worth pointing out that the interaction between the cap and the means-test threshold means that every family would have a different level for which they would be liable to meet their care costs. The issues relating to design are real, as are those about how to meter the system from the point someone enters it, and they require detailed work as part of the design of an effective implementation alongside the costings of it.