Report (2nd Day)

Part of Care Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 14th October 2013.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 5:30 pm, 14th October 2013

My Lords, perhaps I may deal first with the initial point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, about the figure that I quoted in Committee. He asked whether I had in fact meant to say that up to 40,000 people might have to sell their homes every year. The answer is that I should have said “up to 40,000”. I am afraid that there is a conscious element of vagueness in the figure because there is no one comprehensive source to provide information about what the precise figure actually is. We have arrived at a figure of up to 40,000 as the best estimate. I hope and believe that over the summer my officials provided the noble Lord with a breakdown on how we reached that figure and that he has found the information useful. The point of quoting the figure is that we believe that it is around the number of people who could benefit from the arrangements we are discussing. I apologise if I misled the Committee and the House in stating a figure that sounded precise when I should have been a little more circumspect.

The second issue raised by the noble Lord was about the deferred payment scheme and his perception that the Government have effectively emasculated it. I do not share that perception. There will be some circumstances in which local authorities must offer a deferred payment, and that is when the Bill specifies that the local authority would be under a duty to offer a deferred payment. We are consulting on the eligibility criteria for when people must be offered a deferred payment, which is where the figure of 23,250 is used. The Bill has an additional power for local authorities to offer deferred payments more widely, and we are seeking views on this through the consultation. My noble and learned friend Lord Mackay asked why we need limits at all. It is our policy intent that deferred payments will be available more widely and consistently than they currently are, which I think is what the Dilnot commission intended us to do. We need to ensure, however—