As the dust settles on George Osbourne’s budget announcements for 2015/16, the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) has responded to the government’s decision to postpone the proposed cap on individuals’ care costs until 2020.
Describing the postponement as a ‘double edged sword’, RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell said there had been serious concerns about whether sufficient government funding would be in place to enable the scheme to be introduced smoothly and efficiently from April 2016.
But, he warned, the four year delay in its introduction will now oblige many people to continue to meet all or most care costs out of their own pockets.
“That will strike thousands of families as unfair,” he said. “The cap on care costs would have helped them in two ways. First, the assets test was set to shift from an extraordinarily low figure of £23,250 to a figure expected to be around £118,000.
“Secondly, and importantly, the State would have had to step in once individuals had spent £72,000 on their own care, excluding so-called ‘hotel’ costs to cover food and other items they would need to pay for if they were still living in their own homes.”
He added: “All of that has been put on ice for four years, and it remains to be seen whether the government honours its pledge to reintroduce the scheme in 2020. Cynics may feel that the financial ice age risks becoming permanent.
“On the other hand, if insufficient government funding had been provided to local authorities, introduction of the new cap next April would have put incredible pressures on already very tight adult social care budgets. A system already at breaking point might have imploded altogether, with very negative consequences for those already in the care system. The Local Government Association had written to the government before the budget to warn of the dangers ahead.”
Mr Ursell concluded: “The delay until 2020 is perhaps therefore a blessing in disguise, but only if the government gets its act together in the meantime and finds enough resources not only to enable local authorities to fund adult social care properly but also to deal with the consequences of a cap on individuals’ personal responsibility for their own care costs.”