THE government’s recent announcement to grant loans to pensioners for the cost of care, which would be repayable on death, have been criticised by a borough lawyer.
Ellie Holland, a specialist private client lawyer at Solihull and Birmingham solicitors Williamson & Soden, said that the plans went nowhere towards solving the problem.
The proposal is for councils to lend money to nursing home residents, being repaid with interest after the death of the resident concerned.
But Ms Holland says that the scheme, to be implemented by 2015, will not solve the growing problem of financing care in an ageing population. “Once the care home resident dies, the debt with interest will have to be repaid, potentially involving remortgaging or sale at a time of real trauma for the family,” she said.
“Many local authorities, including Solihull MBC and Birmingham City Council, already have the power to secure their expenditure against a person’s home by way of a charge against the property.
“Without this power, privately funded care home residents would otherwise have to sell their homes to pay for care immediately. So the new proposals represent no real change for residents in this locality.
“This is a problem for middle England. The less well off are provided with an amount of care free of charge while those with accumulated wealth or large pension funds are expected to pay for care.
“The only way that I can see this challenge being overcome is through everyone doing their utmost to plan ahead and make provision through pensions and financial planning.”