Joint committee: Care Bill should include importance of regulated IFAs

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The Care and Support Bill should stipulate that local authorities must recommend regulated independent financial advisers, to care funders a joint committee has recommended.

The joint committee was appointed in November last year by the House of Commons and House of Lords to examine the draft Care and Support Bill and to report back by 7 March 2013. The committee held a total of 16 meetings and published the report today.

The report said: "The need for advice to be impartial is particularly acute in the case of financial advice. This does not currently appear in the list in clause 2(2), and several of our witnesses thought it should."

The committee report recommendations stated: "The draft Bill should make clear that "information" and "advice" include financial information and advice, and that local authority services should recommend financial advisers only if they are regulated by the Financial Services Authority."

It advised that "obtaining independent financial advice on the options for paying for care and support" and "where such advice can be found" should be added to the Bill's list in clause 2(2), that covers the local authority's responsibility in providing information and advice.

The report added that deferred payment agreements secured against property were complex and "adults in a vulnerable position" should not enter into such agreements without financial advice.

The committee recommended the Bill be amended particularly in the case of deferred payment agreements to ensure the person needing care is; informed of the importance of independent financial advice from an adviser regulated by the Financial Services Authority; and is advised how to obtain it.

Partnership, provider of long term care insurance, explained to the committee - as outlined in the report - that advice would be particularly important for self-funders, who constituted 41% of those in the care system.

Neil Sewell, chartered financial planner and long-term care adviser at advice firm Sewell Bryden Gunn, said: "The inclusion of the importance of financial advice in the bill is very important and I agree it should happen.

"I think the need for independent financial advice by a regulated adviser for long-term care has probably been underestimated in the past so I welcome the fact it has now been recognised as an important part."

He added the recognition of the value of regulated independent advice in the Bill would have a positive impact on the industry and adviser business.

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Nicola Culley

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