Unfunded care cap could have ‘catastrophic’ effects on council services

An un-costed cap on social care introduced for local services could have “catastrophic” repercussions for community care, with costs soaring as high as £691m a year, council chiefs have said.

In a new report released today, the County Councils Network (CCN) said if the government was to introduce a care cap— meaning a limit would be placed on the amount people in England would have to pay towards their social care— the costs passed onto local authorities annually could be as high as £691m if Whitehall does not supply mitigation funding.

Last year the government postponed its planned £72,000 care cap for those using social care. But the upcoming green paper, which is expected to include a new cost ceiling, could cap care at the original £72,000— which the CCN argues would set back councils by £330m annually if it is not fully funded.

Worse still, if the government implements a £50,000 cap on care, this would cost county authorities collectively £691m a year.

The CCN noted that the cap could be funded by national taxation and means-testing of winter fuel allowance to avoid “catastrophic consequences” for local services.

The report said: “Government could protect individuals and their families from catastrophic care costs by introducing a cap and threshold model. This is an approach that CCN supports and that government has stated will be included in the green paper in some shape or form.

“Given the difference in the cost of living that exists nationally and regionally, the introduction of a cap on care would have a differing impact upon CCN member councils. It is likely that in those areas where the cost of living is higher, that a client would reach a cap on care and come into local authority funded care more quickly than in areas where the cost of living is lower.

“As such, any funding settlement from government would need to take such impacts into account to ensure that reforms are fully funded and equitable.”

CCN spokesman for health and social care and leader of Hertfordshire County Council Cllr David Williams said county areas are withstanding some of the greatest financial and demand-led pressures in social care, with these pressures only to intensify in the coming years.

“Faced with these current pressures, and an elderly population that is projected to increase to unprecedented levels in rural areas, financial reform for the system and protection for individuals from huge costs are necessary,” he added.

“That is why we are backing a cap on care cost contributions – but this must be fully costed for local authorities, otherwise it will have catastrophic consequences as it pushes under-pressure social care services to the brink of collapse.”

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Image credit: fzant, iStock images


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