My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. On the first two of the three legs of his argument, I am happy to support what he said. Through helpful discussions over the summer, I understood that he had meant to say “up to 40,000.” I make no criticism of him for misleading the House. Any misleading he did is on a tiny scale compared with the misleading that has taken place with the whole country through these repeated cuttings file references. History will now have on record in this debate the truth about these numbers. That is a form of progress, if not legislative progress.
Secondly, I should like to thank the noble Earl for what he said about advice. We are near to having another meeting before Third Reading on advice. We are all after the same things on advice with the same constraints. We have not quite cracked it yet, but I hope when the House comes back on Third Reading to the matter of advice, we shall do so, either in the form of an amendment, or of a shared understanding on where we are going which might take the form of regulation or guidance. On those two things, I agree with the Minister.
However the Minister did not confront my most important point. Let us be absolutely clear. This Bill does not provide a universal deferred payments scheme. It provides a deferred payments scheme only for people who have less than £23,250 in assets. There is no universal deferred payments scheme. Further, this has been done in a back-door manner which disgraces the Government. It was not in Dilnot. We have heard decisive testimony on that from my noble friend Lord Warner. It was not in the Government’s announcement of their response to Dilnot. It was not in the Second
Reading speeches. It came out between stages of the Bill in this consultation document. The noble Earl suggested that there would be people with more than £23,250 who could benefit from deferred payments so we did not have to worry. The relevant bit from paragraph 154 of the consultation document says:
“More generally, we also intend that authorities should have the discretion to provide deferred payments to people in residential care who do not necessarily meet all of the mandated criteria.”
Those criteria include the £23,250, so that sounds quite good. The next sentence says:
“For example, if someone has slightly more savings”—
I stress the phrase 5“slightly more savings”—
“than the £23,250 threshold but would qualify for a deferred payment soon, an authority might prefer to offer the option upfront.”
That is a tiny loophole. This is essentially a £23,250 threshold that the Government have smuggled in, telling nobody until they had to produce this document and hoping no doubt that by
I urge the Minister to indicate at the earliest possible opportunity that the Government will give this matter fundamental reconsideration. If he does not so indicate, I am afraid that the consequences for him and for the integrity of the whole Dilnot scheme will be considerable. The Government have got to look at it again. The House may wish to reconsider this matter—which, after all, has only come up this afternoon—at Third Reading, with appropriate amendments designed to undo what the Government are attempting to do. I shall not push the amendment for the reasons I have given and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 62A withdrawn.
Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
63: Clause 35, page 30, line 12, at end insert—
“( ) The Secretary of State shall make available to all local authorities a model deferred payment scheme and all local authorities must follow this model unless they can show due cause not to.”