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17.07.15

Elderly care costs cap delayed until 2020

The government announced today (17 July) that the cap on elderly care costs will be pushed back from next April until 2020.

The decision came after an LGA letter earlier this month sent to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Osborne. It said it would be “deeply damaging to press ahead with a costly and ambitious reform programme if the very foundations of the system we are reforming cannot be sustained.”

From April 2016, care costs for those over the age of 65 were to be limited to £72,000 over the course of their lifetime.

The planned changes would have also meant councils could only deny cost coverage for people with assets above £118,000, instead of the current £23,250 threshold.

This means more people would have to pay for their care, either residentially or in a care home. For one in 10 people, these costs can exceed £100,000.

Despite this, the changes originally intended for next April also envisioned a more generous system of state help.

In the letter to ministers, dated 1 July and signed by health and care chair Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the LGA called for “frank assessments of prioritisation” yet clarified that they were not asking for funding changes to be entirely suspended.

It said: “This means considering postponing new costly initiatives – even those we fully support – if that is the only way we can secure sufficient funding for mainstream social care services.

“We do believe that reforms can wait and that addressing the more pressing matter of funding for the system itself should be our shared priority.”

The letter received widespread support from the social care sector. Ray James, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “Whilst the Care Act is rightly welcome across the sector, if asked to choose between implementing the funding reforms right now or having the money to directly fund growing demand for social care, every right-minded person would prioritise a fair and sustainable funding settlement to meet the true cost of providing safe, good quality care.”

However ministers had claimed the change intended to stop people accumulating “catastrophic” elderly care costs.

The cap was part of a series of changes being implemented under the 2014 Care Act as well as part of the Conservative Party’s manifesto.

Delaying the cap therefore represents a clear break from commitments outlined in the Tory manifesto – despite the fact that ministers will now be able to inject as much as £2bn into social care in England.

The manifesto originally stated: “We will cap charges for residential social care from April 2016… so that no one has to sell their home. For the first time individual liabilities will be limited, giving everyone the peace of mind that they will receive the care they need and they will be protected from unlimited costs if they develop very serious care needs such as dementia.”

According to the government’s cost estimates, this decision will save £590m in 2016-17 and £2bn until the end of the austerity programme in 2019.

Comments

Cheated   20/07/2015 at 16:14

The proceeds from the sale of our mother's house all £250,000.00 has gone in care costs - only 6k remains which may not even cover a funeral when the time comes. So keep an eye on your standing orders - my sister has not been able to get a refund of the overpayment. Our mother has dementia and had to have a leg amputated after a fall in 2007 - since when all her savings and an inheritance from her sister have gone into her care.

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