Norwich Union's head of long-term care strategy has slammed the government for its continued failure to clarify long-term care provision across the UK.

Sandy Johnstone said the uncertainty about what the state would pay for meant that the people who would benefit most from long-term care insurance were delaying taking out cover.

Johnstone picked out a group that he called the “uncertain many”, whose assets are too great to rely on the state, but whose savings would soon be eaten away by the cost of residential care.

“These people are probably the group who have been least well supported by recent events,” he said.

“For ages they have been told there will be a framework that is clear and understandable.”

Johnstone said the Scottish executive's decision to provide both nursing and personal care, such as help with dressing and bathing, to those in residential homes, was not a final one.

The proposal would be examined and a final decision probably made in August, he said. Opposition parties in Scotland have already claimed that the deal is full of get-out clauses.

A bill going through the Westminster parliament provides for funding for nursing care only for pensioners in England and Wales. Personal care will be means tested.

Not surprisingly, this has led to calls for the level of state care provision to be the same north and south of the border.

Johnstone said: “This is an intolerable situation where you have messages going out telling people that they should protect themselves.

“But it's very difficult to plan with any degree of certainty if you don't know what the rules are.”

Johnstone said the area of care seemed to be a lot of consultation and very little action at present.