Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Inheritance tax move to cap elderly care bills

The Government is poised to announce that elderly care bills are to be capped by the State in a £1bn move expected to be funded by dragging more people into inheritance tax.

To the disappointment of many campaigners, the cap will be set at £75,000 – more than double the £35,000 recommended by the independent Dilnot Commission.

But thousands more people will be hit with inheritance tax bills because of a three-year extension of the freeze in the £325,000 threshold – £650,000 for couples – at which it kicks in at 40%.

Alongside the cap, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to announce a large rise in the assets threshold beneath which people receive means-tested support meeting care bills.

Currently £23,250, that is set to rise to £123,000.

Mr Hunt said: "The worst thing that can happen is at the most vulnerable moment in your life you lose the thing you worked hard for, that you saved for, your own house."

Speaking on BBC1, he said the current situation was a "scandal" in which 30,000 to 40,000 people a year have to sell their houses to pay for their care costs.

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) described the social care reforms as "about as credible as a Findus lasagne".

NPC general secretary Dot Gibson said: "Setting a lifetime cap on care costs of £75,000 will help just 10% of those needing care, whilst the majority will be left to struggle on with a third-rate service."

Shadow care and older people's minister Liz Kendall said a "bigger and bolder response" was needed.

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