Only Small Minority Of Care Residents Will Benefit From New Cap Says GMB Union

The shocking reality is about 90% of those who go into a care home will die before they reach the cap limit says GMB

GMB, the union for care staff, is warning that only a very small minority of elderly residents who pay for their own residential care will live long enough to benefit from the £72,000 cap on care costs due to start in April 2016.

The government is introducing a cap from April 2016 on eligible care costs for people in England of state pension age or over who have to pay for their own care. Individuals will pay all costs before the cap. The government has set the cap at £72,000.

Top-up fees are excluded from the cap. So too are so-called “hotel costs” of around £230 per week. This is the amount care-home residents have to contribute toward the cost of accommodation, food, etc. Based on current trends, when the new system comes into force in 2016, local authorities will be paying on average £522 a week in England for a residential-care bed. So after deducting the £230 per week the balance counting towards the cap will be £292 per week on average in England. There is significant variation in local-authority rates and this will affect the time taken to reach the cap.

It would take 4 years and 9 months for an average resident in England to reach the cap and they can expect to spend around twice the official level of the cap to get to that point. There is just above a 1 in 10 chances of a resident reaching the cap before they die.

Set out in the table below are the estimated average amount per region that will count toward the cap and the estimated years and months it will take to reach the cap.

 Cap on care costs – projections broken down by region

 Region How much of what residents pay counts towards the cap (weekly) Time taken to hit the cap
North East £ 276 5 years
North West £ 255 5 years 5 months
Yorkshire and Humber £ 240 5 years 9 months
East Midlands £ 216 6 years 5 months
West Midlands £ 274 5 years
East of England £ 302 4 years 7 months
London £ 434 3 years 2 months
South East £ 319 4 years 4 months
South West £ 335 4 years 1 month
England £ 292 4 years 9 months

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer, said “The complete inadequacy of the government’s cap on eligible care fees is laid bare for all to see.

The £72,000 cap is more than double the £35,000 recommended in 2011 by the Commission on Funding of Care and Support chaired by Andrew Dilnot.

The cap of £72,000 has to considered in the context of how long people tend to be resident in care homes.  BUPA figures suggest that the average length of stay in all care beds was 832 days or 2.3 years. The longest 25% of stayers are resident for an average 1,206 days or 3.3 years and the longest 10% for 2,112 days or 5.8 years.  This means that nearly 90% of the people who have to go into a care home will not live long enough to reach the cap.

This is a betrayal of hundreds of thousands of citizens who contributed to this country all their working lives and were promised a cradle to grave system of care would be there if they needed it, free at the point of use.

Instead they are thrown into a lottery whose outcome depends on whether or not they are one from twenty from each age group who will need to go into a care home and if so how long they will be there. At their most vulnerable and needy, they are expected to empty their hard earned savings or sell their houses long before reaching the cap.

At their most vulnerable and needy, those whose health forces them into a care home will be expected to empty their hard earned savings or use money from their houses long before reaching the cap. The shocking reality is that nearly 90% of them will die before they reach the cap.

Does this government policy really represent the full value as a society we place on our elderly and vulnerable?

We need to move away from this mess of means-testing and capping. The Westminster parties should make manifesto pledges to integrate elderly care with the health service and fund both from general taxation. This would patently be a fairer system.

Older people are being short-changed by the current approach to funding. The care workforce is getting a raw deal too. The sector desperately needs more public investment and control.”