Election 2017

Families question Tory social care plan

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"As soon as my mum dies, will the council come for its money? Will I be homeless?"

That was the reaction of Peter Martin, from London, to Conservative proposals for elderly care announced this week.

Other people, like Richard Low, support the plans because his family already pay for care by drawing on the value of their home.

Under the plan, people receiving in-home care will pay more towards the cost, but can delay payment from their estates until after they have died.

However, many elderly people and their relatives have been left with unanswered questions.

How much does care cost in England?

  • 1 in 4 have no or few care costs

  • 1 in 10 spend more than £100,000

  • £700 a week for residential care

  • £1,000 a week for nursing care

  • £16.70 an hour for home care

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"To say care will be paid for on death is crazy without considering circumstances like mine," Mr Martin, who co-owns his house with his mum, told the BBC.

His mum, Doris who is 88, receives care at home three times daily from the council.

She contributes £17 per week but Mr Martin estimates that under the new proposals this would increase to £309 each week.

"I am concerned that once she dies, we will have to pay the bills for care from the house, which is worth around £300,000 - so will this leave me owning half a house?

"Where would I live? I have nowhere else to live. None of this is clear - I can't find the answers anywhere.

"This is being sold to us a fairness measure - but it is not fair.

"I have no idea what might happen to me - I'm very concerned that I'd have to sell my house and be homeless," Mr Martin explained.

A big help

Richard Low believes that the proposals would have made a big difference to him and his mother.

Image copyright Richard Low
Image caption Richard Low, who is 31, believes the plans would have helped his mother stay in her own home.

His mother, Christine, was living in France when she developed early-onset Alzheimer's.

"She had no real support network there and lost her ability to speak French," Mr Low told the BBC. Richard's father died in 2006.

"We moved her into a home while she still knew what was happening."

"Had we waited until the council decided she needed to go into a home she would just have been allocated somewhere."

Now 63, Mr Low's mother is looked after in a care home in Essex close to where he lives.

Image copyright Richard Low
Image caption Richard Low's mother, Christine, had to leave her home in France after she developed early-onset Alzheimer's.

"We sold her house to pay for the cost of her care," he said.

"She was paying £800 a week for a local care home. That drained her finances pretty quickly."

With his mother's assets rapidly falling to the £23,250 threshold currently in place for receiving council-funded care, Mr Low and his family applied for a financial assessment in January.

"They don't take ownership of the costs until you can prove that the limit has been reached," he said.

"But it took until last week to be approved so her savings have now dropped to £14,000.

"It makes me sad to think that three years ago, she owned her own home, paid taxes and lived a happy life.

"Now she has very little to show for a life contributing to the country as a teacher and a taxpayer.

"These proposals would have made a big difference for my mum."

Top-up care

Penny Lewis's mother, Margaret, is 98. Cared for at home, she receives round-the-clock support.

"I absolutely agree with the fact that people should use funds from their savings and home, but I don't think the proposals have been thought through properly," she told the BBC.

"I think my mum will be worse off."

About a third of Margaret's care costs are met by the local authority - just under £500 a week.

But Penny believes her mother needs additional support and she pays close to £68,000 a year for top-up care through an equity release arrangement on her mother's home.

"But will we be able to afford this under these proposals?" she asks.

Image copyright Penny Lewis
Image caption Penny Lewis says that the care provided by the state to her mother Margaret Scott, pictured, is insufficient.

"What is not being talked about is that local authority care is never enough," says Penny, who cannot be with her mother every day because she lives and works in France.

"It's down to each local authority as to how much care they're going to pay for.

"My mother lost the ability to walk about three years ago.

"She had new knees when she was 80 but they broke down.

"And psychologically she needs the reassurance of someone there. She gets very confused.

"Would these proposals mean that I couldn't take equity from my mother's house to pay for care?

"That would be very frightening."

Produced by UGC and Social news team

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