A rising number of elderly people face losing "almost all of their wealth" after social care reforms stalled, the Government has reportedly admitted.
The bleak assessment came in a submission to a House of Lords committee investigating the ageing population, reported by The Daily Telegraph.
An official review of the social care system published last year recommended the introduction of a cap of £35,000 on the maximum people have to pay towards a nursing home.
This would stop tens of thousands of people having to sell their homes to fund treatment.
But the joint evidence from the departments of Health, Work and Pensions, and Communities and Local Government said they are "unable to commit" to the £35,000 cap.
"Any such system will have a cost," the submission said. "At this time, the Government is committed to reducing the structural deficit, and we are unable to commit to introducing a new system.
"The Government needs to take a broad view of all priorities and pressures before coming to a final decision."
The failure to cap care costs will lead to a growing number of people losing their life savings, the departments added.
"The state only provides social care support to those with the least ability to pay," it says. "This leaves those with some wealth with the risk that they could lose almost all of it, if they need care. With an ageing population, more people, and their families, will face this problem."
By 2030, the number of pensioners is forecast to rise by 51%, with the number of people over 85 more than doubling.