AGE Concern Hampshire gave a luke-warm reaction to the news that elderly care bills are being capped by the state at £75,000.

The charity's Hampshire director, Rick Smith, was underwhelmed by the news but did say that it was a step in the right direction.

“I'm not going to get too enthusiastic about it,” he said.

“It doesn't do much for the people who are already on a middle to low income in their 50s and 60s.

“It's not brilliant, but it's a start, it's affordable and it's realistic.”

The £1 billion move is expected to be funded by dragging more people into inheritance tax.

To the disappointment of many campaigners, the cap will be more than double the £35,000 recommended by the independent Dilnot Commission.

But thousands more people will be hit with inheritance tax bills because of a three-year extension of the freeze in the £325,000 threshold - £650,000 for couples - at which it kicks in at 40%.

Alongside the cap, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to announce a large rise in the assets threshold beneath which people receive means-tested support meeting care bills.

Currently £23,250, that is set to rise to £123,000.

Mr Hunt said: ''The point of what we are doing is to protect people's inheritance.

“The worst thing that can happen is at the most vulnerable moment in your life you lose the thing you worked hard for, that you saved for, your own house.

''And what we are trying to do is to be one of the first countries in the world which creates a system where people don't have to sell their own house.''

Shadow care and older people's minister Liz Kendall said a ''bigger and bolder response'' was needed.

''This would be a small step forward for some people who need residential care in five or more years time,'' she said.

''But it won't be fair for people with modest homes.”

David Rogers, chairman of the Local Government Association's community wellbeing board, said: ''A cap will help create more certainty, fairness and, in the process, peace of mind.

''We need a system that helps families with the cost of care in old age and protects them from the heartache of losing their homes to pay for it.

''We also need a system that encourages people to plan ahead, both financially and through healthy living to help prevent the need for care.

''We are concerned that the cap alone - which at £75,000 is considerably higher than the independent commission's recommendation of between £25,000 and £50,000 - won't address these issues.''