Government Changes Rules on Social Care Cap

The government has been criticised over changes to social care cap rules which industry observers will say mean poorer people will pay the same for their care as those who are wealthier.

The plan’s critics say a new change, which excludes the financial help people get towards their care, means the poorest will have to use more of their assets than those who are better off.

It was announced in September that from 2023 no one in England would pay more than £86,000 in care fees during their lifetime.

Now it has been specified that support payments from local councils will not count towards this personal limit.

Labour said it makes the cap “an even bigger con than we initially thought”.

Ministers argue it will mean that people don’t reach it at an “artificially faster rate” – and means-testing for support is becoming more generous.

However, critics say it will make the cap harder to reach than under a previous version suggested during David Cameron’s government.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said:

“The change the Government has announced makes the overall scheme a lot less helpful to older people with modest assets than anyone had expected. It waters down Sir Andrew Dilnot’s original proposal to save the Government some money, but at the cost of protecting the finances of older home owners who are not terribly affluent if they need care for a long time. This feels like completely the wrong policy choice and we are extremely disappointed that the Government has made it – and that it is only announcing it now, rather than two months ago when the Prime Minister set out his plan. Unfortunately, its impact is such that it is more than a mere “tweak”.

“The Government was already under fire for making the design of its cap insufficiently progressive, but their proposed change tilts the balance further away still from providing this kind of support to the older people who need it the most – those who have built up some assets over their working lives but are still by no means well off, plus those older people living on their State Pension with few if anyone savings at all. When this change is factored in it becomes clear that the cap will disproportionately benefit those living in the South, rather than the North, where house prices are that much lower, flying in the face of the Government’s “levelling up agenda”. Its practical impact is that fewer older people will be able to pass on an inheritance to their loved ones in poorer areas than had been hoped because their care bills will take all the money they have, and that’s real shame.”

Liz Kendall, the shadow care minister, said: “We already knew most people won’t hit the cap because it doesn’t cover board and lodging in care homes.

“And that, at £86,000, the cap would still mean many people will have to sell their homes to pay for their care – against everything Johnson promised.

“It has now been revealed that the poorest pensioners will have to pay even more, something Andrew Dilnot – who proposed the cap – explicitly ruled out because it was so unfair.”

The plan’s critics say a new change, which excludes the financial help people get towards their care, means the poorest will have to use more of their assets than those who are better off.

It was announced in September that from 2023 no one in England would pay more than £86,000 in care fees during their lifetime.

Now it has been specified that support payments from local councils will not count towards this personal limit.

Labour said it makes the cap “an even bigger con than we initially thought”.

Ministers argue it will mean that people don’t reach it at an “artificially faster rate” – and means-testing for support is becoming more generous.

However, critics say it will make the cap harder to reach than under a previous version suggested during David Cameron’s government.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said:

“The change the Government has announced makes the overall scheme a lot less helpful to older people with modest assets than anyone had expected. It waters down Sir Andrew Dilnot’s original proposal to save the Government some money, but at the cost of protecting the finances of older home owners who are not terribly affluent if they need care for a long time. This feels like completely the wrong policy choice and we are extremely disappointed that the Government has made it – and that it is only announcing it now, rather than two months ago when the Prime Minister set out his plan. Unfortunately, its impact is such that it is more than a mere “tweak”.

“The Government was already under fire for making the design of its cap insufficiently progressive, but their proposed change tilts the balance further away still from providing this kind of support to the older people who need it the most – those who have built up some assets over their working lives but are still by no means well off, plus those older people living on their State Pension with few if anyone savings at all. When this change is factored in it becomes clear that the cap will disproportionately benefit those living in the South, rather than the North, where house prices are that much lower, flying in the face of the Government’s “levelling up agenda”. Its practical impact is that fewer older people will be able to pass on an inheritance to their loved ones in poorer areas than had been hoped because their care bills will take all the money they have, and that’s real shame.”

Liz Kendall, the shadow care minister, said: “We already knew most people won’t hit the cap because it doesn’t cover board and lodging in care homes.

“And that, at £86,000, the cap would still mean many people will have to sell their homes to pay for their care – against everything Johnson promised.

“It has now been revealed that the poorest pensioners will have to pay even more, something Andrew Dilnot – who proposed the cap – explicitly ruled out because it was so unfair.”

 

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