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Councils criticised for failing to promote deferred payment

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Concerns have been raised that many councils are failing to make people aware of schemes which mean they wouldn’t have to immediately sell their home to cover the cost of care fees.

Since last year, local authorities have an obligation to offer individuals deferred payment arrangements, allowing them to borrow money to cover the costs against the value of their property.

The council lends the money at a low-rate of interest and the sum is usually paid back at the point when the homeowner dies.

When the Care Act was introduced last April, the Government claimed that the system would give people more options.

In a briefing paper issued at the time, the Department of Health said: “A deferred payment agreement means that people should not be forced to sell their home in their lifetime to pay care home bills.”

But there are growing fears that many councils are doing little to raise public awareness of the option and as a consequence many families believe they have no other choice than to sell the home straight away.

The accusation that has been levelled at a number of local authorities is that they regard the scheme as a poor use of money and will refuse to offer these arrangements through fear that the loan will ultimately exceed the value of the property.