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A scheme to lessen the impact of social care costs for older people has had its "balls cut off " after the government moved to bar people with assets of more than £23,250, on top of the value of their main home, a former member of the Royal Commission on long-term care has claimed.Lord Lipsey, a Labour peer who sat on the commission chaired in 1999 by Professor Sir Stewart Sutherland, said ministers had "welched" on a universal deal that people would not have to sell their homes to pay for long-term care.But Norman Lamb, the social care minister, denied that the government had changed tack.Lipsey spoke out on Monday night in a House of Lords debate on the care bill, which is implementing elements of a second commission on long-term care chaired by the Oxford economist Andrew Dilnot.The government has amended the key recommendation in the Dilnot report that a cap of between £23,000 and £50,000 – with a suggested figure of £35,000 – should be placed on the costs of long-term care. The government set the cap at £72,000 on the grounds that a lower figure would be too costly.Dilnot also recommended a universal deferred payment scheme to reduce the number of older people forced to sell their homes to pay for care. Councils would pay the costs and recoup them once the house was sold, usually after the person in care had died.But Lipsey said that a government consultation indicated that this scheme would not be available to anyone who had assets, on top of their home, of more than £23,250. He told peers: "The original scheme put forward by Dilnot has had its balls cut off by the government in the consultation document … If you have more than that, you have to spend down until you have £23,250 left in the bank or wherever it is, and then you can consider a deferred payment scheme."However, most people who have reasonably valuable houses, who are the people most likely to want to adopt this measure, will have far more than £23,250 worth of other assets. Most of them will not feel the least bit happy if they have to spend down until they have only £23,250 left in the bank before they can get any help from the deferred payment scheme."That hardly pays for a daily delivery of the Racing Post for the rest of their lives, their nightly gin and tonic, or more important things, such as the literature they want to read or all the things that make their life fuller. For those people, a deferred payment scheme is simply not available."The peer accused the government of smuggling in the change and predicted that the Daily Mail, which has campaigned on the issue, would take up the cudgels. The Mail placed the story on its front page on Tuesday.Lipsey said: "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 25 October nobody would have noticed. I shall tell you who will notice. The Daily Mail will notice. The Daily Mail and other newspapers, which campaigned so that people would not have their houses seized – I applaud them and have applauded them before for doing so – are now going to learn that the government have welched on the deal. The tsunami that will hit the government in consequence will hurt not only this proposal but the government as a whole."