Lansley to unveil social care loan scheme
The Government is due to unveil plans for pensioners moving into long-term residential care to receive state loans so they are not forced into an immediate sale of their property.
The scheme - among a raft of proposals being published by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley - is designed to help around 40,000 people each year who are forced to sell their homes to cover social care costs.
It will enable people to borrow money at nominal interest rates from local authorities with the sum repaid after their death.
The initiative is expected to be introduced across England in April 2015. Some councils already operate similar arrangements but provision varies widely across the country.
Cross-party talks on reform of social care for the elderly have broken down after it became clear that ministers would not take funding decisions before next year's spending review.
The coalition Government is refusing to make specific commitments on funding, which many believe is the main stumbling block to overhauling the much-criticised current system, despite the independent Dilnot report which last year recommended placing a cap of £35,000 on the social care costs paid by older people.
Specific details, such as the level of interest payments, will be the subject of negotiations between central and local government in the coming months.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Lansley said: "It is hard enough for people to come to terms with needing to pay for extra help when their circumstances change - whether their health has suddenly deteriorated or age has started to take its toll. The last thing people want to think is having to immediately sell their home to pay for residential care.
"That is why, from April 2015, we will ensure that people will be able to delay selling their home to pay for residential care. This will give people greater flexibility and peace of mind at what can be a very traumatic time."
He added: "I recognise that we can go further. We can enable people not to lose everything they have worked and saved for if they need care for several years. That is why we agree in principle that a limit on the amount that people pay themselves for the long-term care they receive would be the right way forward."