The government has decided to delay its flagship policy to cap social care costs under the Care Act until April 2020, thus breaking a key manifesto pledge./p>
The cap on the amount self-funders were to have to contribute to their care costs from April 2016 was to be £72,000 for over 65’s and younger adults with disabilities.
None of us knows whether we will end up in a care home, or in receipt of care in our own home. One in ten people who enter the care system currently end up spending more than £100,000. The cap was designed to give people security in place of the current uncertainty.
One other key reform has also been postponed until April 2020. At present those with assets above £23,250 generally do not receive any financial help from Councils towards their care costs. That threshold would have risen to up to £118,000 in some circumstances under the changes that were due to come into force next April.
The Local Government Association called for the reforms to be delayed and for the cash saved by the delay to be injected into the social care system, but as yet the government has given no indication whether the £6 million saving will be available for that.
Harold Bodmer, vice president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said the government was right to delay the reforms because of the ‘‘intolerable strain’’ they would put on social care budgets.
Likewise, Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said that to introduce the cap now would have been a ‘’distraction’’ at a time when the care system as a whole was in a state of ‘’cataclysmic’’ decline. She hoped the delay would lead to a rethink, as the cap had been set too high in the first place.
Prof Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents care providers, warned that ‘’if the government refuses to address the issue of funding, we will have a care system in crisis and the NHS unable to cope with the pressure’’.
For years Councils have been warning that the care system has been underfunded. Concerns have also been expressed that the drive for a national living wage would push care costs up.
Alison Allen, head of the team of solicitors at Stone King which provides specialist advice about care issues, says: ‘’We sincerely hope that - in addressing the social care funding crisis - the government will not lose sight of the need for people to know that there is a limit to the amount they will have to spend on their care. People are currently faced with potentially devastating costs for care as they get older, and need certainty to be able to plan accordingly. The fact that the cap has been postponed demonstrates both the complexity of the issues and the size of the challenge. We all know that the system needs reforming, but that can only happen successfully with long term planning and a commitment to proper investment from the Government”.