MPs call for stronger rules on top-up fees
Caring Times, September 2014
Former care minister Paul Burstow has tabled a Parliamentary motion highlighting Independent Age’s research finding that about three-quarters of councils are unable to show they are protecting families of the poorest pensioners from paying top-up fees for residential care.
Early Day Motion 152 calls on the Government to strengthen the legal framework on charging in residential accommodation so that local authorities have to actively monitor which residents are able and willing to pay third party top-up fees.
Andrew Kaye, head of policy and campaigns at Independent Age, said too many families found themselves confused by being asked to pay an additional fee for basic care they assumed it was the responsibility of councils to meet.
“It is wrong that families of some of the poorest pensioners are pushed to make up the shortfall in care home fees by paying top-ups they can ill afford,” said Mr Kaye.
“We’re calling on the Government to properly fund councils so they can pay a fair price for care and for councils to take whatever action they can to satisfy themselves that the people paying top-ups for care home places have voluntarily chosen to do so.”
Independent Age recently calculated that residential care is underfunded by around £700m a year, with local authorities buying care places at between £30 and £130 below the market rate. Many care homes are passing this shortfall onto individuals, either by asking families to ‘top-up’ the cost of their loved ones’ care home places which should be free, or by charging fee-paying residents more for the same level of care.