Professional Comment

Why Technology Will Need To Play A Vital Role In Preparing For Care Cap Reforms

By Julie Tyas, Senior Social Care Consultant, Access Health, Support & Care (

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written before the announcement about the delays to social care reform and some information may have changed.

There has been a series of legislative changes, policy announcements and funding commitments that promise a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to transform the way that social care is structured and delivered. Most notably, this includes the care cap, the Health and Care Act, and the £15.5m in extra funding for local authorities to manage the changes.

And whilst additional funding and pledges to transform the sector are always welcomed, if we look beyond the high-level announcements, the detail suggests that the expectation being placed on local authorities and care providers to reform services, outweighs the support provided by government to ensure it is achievable.

For example, plans for implementing the care cap come at a time when the recent State of the Nation report from Access Social Care shows that needs assessments have increased by 229% from 2019/20 – 2021/22. Similarly, it’s well documented how care vacancy rates are higher than they’ve ever been. And the County Council Network estimates that c5,000 new social workers are needed to manage the additional demands on local authorities.

This new legislation represents some of the biggest changes to care practices in a generation. Traditionally, transformation of this kind would require a major change management programme, but our customers are telling us that it’s just not possible because of the limited timeframe before the introduction of the care cap in October 2023, constrained resources and limited support from the centre.

Moreover, the recent announcement that councils will receive £15.5m from the government to help manage the changes associated with the care cap, unfortunately, is a drop in the ocean.

If we break it down, each local authority will receive c£100,000 – £150,000 in additional funding, which will pay for 2-3 social workers per council. This will do little to provide local authorities with the support and resources they need ahead of the October deadline. For the trailblazer councils piloting the reforms in January next year, there is even less time to prepare. And that’s without considering solutions that could also help with charging requirements, such as external assessors, and digital tools for processing financial assessments, all of which come at a cost.

That being said, we know that local authorities are continuing to work hard to prepare for the impending deadline and are seeking new ways of dealing with the increased pressure. Namely, with the use of technology. It can play a major role in relieving some of the pressure on staff, whether it is automating elements of the financial assessments, or streamlining case management processes.

There is additional funding expected in April 2023, to support the implementation of technology in social care, which will help to scale up the use of digital. However, it’s perhaps too late for councils to use it effectively to prepare for the care cap. Plus additional investment is still needed – as part of a broader, holistic approach to tackling the charging reforms and workforce shortages – if it is going to make a real impact.

The sooner technology can be incorporated into organisation-wide strategic roadmaps for the care cap, and organisations receive additional government support to tackle resource challenges, the greater chance that local authorities and care providers have of being able to deal with the major changes that are expected, in October 2023 and beyond. And with further guidance and support from the government, the easier it will become for the intended ‘once in a generation’ transformation to be achieved.