Church gives cautious welcome to adult care reforms

The social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has welcomed the cap on adult social care costs and the extension of the means-testing threshold.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in Parliament yesterday that a 'cost gap' of £75,000 in care costs would be introduced, with the state stepping in after this point.

The current means-testing threshold for people to be eligible for state-funded social care will be extended from £23,520 to £123,000.

While welcoming the changes, the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) said much more needs to be done to meet the growing need for good quality and affordable care.

It expressed support for the recommendations in the recent Dilnot Report of a cap at £35,000 and an extension of the means-testing threshold to £100,000.

CSAN Chief Executive Helen O'Brien said: "This is an important first step in establishing the principle that families should be protected from limitless social care costs."

"We remain concerned that the level of the cap is far higher than the recommendation of £35,000 by Andrew Dilnot and will only benefit a minority of those affected by social care costs.

"There are also a number of other issues which urgently need to be addressed such as introducing a national eligibility criteria, improving the quality of care and delivering sufficient funding to ensure that growing demand is met."

In a recent address to Parliamentarians, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols highlighted the challenges facing older and disabled people, calling them "a fundamental test of any civilised society".

The Archbishop said that it was "urgent and vital" for the Government to "address shortcomings in the care system".