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£35k-plus care bill for better-off

The better-off will be expected to cover at least the first £35,000 of their care in old age under recommendations by a government-commissioned review, it was reported.

Forthcoming proposals by the Dilnot Commission will call for more state funding for elderly care so that the current £23,250-threshold means test can be increased, according to The Observer.

But it will also cap the contributions of those with higher-than-average assets at between £35,000 and £50,000, the paper said. People will be encouraged to take out insurance to cover the cost.

The proposals, expected to be published within the next couple of weeks, are hoped by ministers to bring a consensus to what has been a highly inflammatory subject on which the political parties have failed to work together in the past.

However, The Observer reported that there were already tensions at the top of the coalition Government, with Liberal Democrats keen on the proposals and Tories less keen to reopen a potentially damaging subject.

Cross-party talks between all three main parties broke down before the last general election amid Tory accusations that Labour wanted to impose a "death tax" to pay for social care. The economist Andrew Dilnot was appointed by the coalition last year to study the issue and make recommendations.

Organisations including Age UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Alzheimer's Society have written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to act on the Dilnot proposals.

They write: "The social care system has been in growing crisis for years. Our organisations deal every day with people at the most vulnerable points in their lives who are either not receiving any social care support or a small level of help that is grossly inadequate to their needs. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people are forced to struggle alone to cope with everyday tasks.

"We call upon the Government to take this opportunity offered by the Dilnot Commission and produce a White Paper in the autumn detailing how it will create a sustainable and fair social care system, including how it will be funded."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "This is a worrying issue for many people and one that has been sidelined for far too long... Once we have received the report, we will consider its findings and welcome continued constructive engagement from all stakeholders."

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