Washington and Sunderland MP claims Government ‘conning’ pensioners over care costs

Sharon Hodgson MP
Sharon Hodgson MP
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A WEARSIDE MP has accused the Government of “conning” pensioners over the costs they will be expected to pay for care.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson made the claims after a public meeting to discuss the issue.

Figures published by the Labour Party say pensioners in the North East face paying more than £140,000 for their residential care before they hit the cap on costs, introduced by ministers.

Mrs Hodgson said this is almost double the £72,000 which the Government has claimed is the maximum pensioners will be expected to pay over their lifetimes.

The analysis also reveals that seven out of eight elderly people in the region will have died before they reach the cap.

Mrs Hodgson said: “These shocking figures show the huge gulf between the Government’s rhetoric and the reality.

“David Cameron may try, but he can’t con Sunderland residents.

“Attendees at my listening event, and indeed anyone who’s looked at the Government’s proposals, know that the grand claims ministers are making don’t stack up against the fine print, and that very few people will actually benefit.”

The MP said the cut-off point will be based on the standard rate local authorities pay for a bed in a care home in their area and not the actual amount self-funders are charged, which is much higher than the council rate. In 2016 to 2017, when the cap is due to start, the average council rate for residential care in the North East is estimated to be £506 a week, while the average price of a care home bed will be about £540 a week.

Pensioners in care homes will also have to pay £230 a week for their “hotel and accommodation” costs, which are counted separately from care costs and which will not count towards the cap.

Alan Patchett, director of Age UK Sunderland, said: “I am pleased Sharon Hodgson has listened to what older people and carers in Sunderland have had to say. It is not too late for the Government to make changes to the Care Bill to make it fairer to all and ensure older people can afford good quality care.”