‘Pre-‘Green Paper’ position - Nothing has changed’

04 September 2017

We've heard a lot in the media recently about the issue of social care and how its going to be funded. In 2010 the Government set up a Commission on Funding of Care and Support to review the current system in England. It became known as the Dilnot enquiry. This enquiry published many recommendations, many of which we have never seen come to pass.

More recently Theresa May’s Government outlined what became known as a ‘dementia tax’ in their Budget, but then quickly did a U-turn on this when it proved unpopular. Even the Queen seemed to skirt over the issue this year in her speech. So now all focus seems to have turned to the green paper that the Government have promised for this autumn. Many hope that it will make all of this a little clearer.

One area that has caused lots of discussion is the idea of a cap on care funding. The Dilnot enquiry first suggested that this should be £35,000, but this quickly rose to £72,000. In their 2015 election manifesto, the Tories again seemed to be committed to the idea of a cap. But this seemed to be dropped again in the run up to this year’s election (before the U-turn). So it’s understandable that people may be confused about whether a care cap will exist at all, and if it does, what it will look like.

The cap was designed to limit how many people would have to pay for care. But this is commonly misunderstood. Some believe that the State will cover all costs once the cap has been reached. This isn’t the case. Working out how the care cap could help you or your loved ones means that you need to understand all of the costs that are involved, which costs actually count towards the cap and who will pay for what, when.

While the cap will be there to help, it was only intended to help towards certain care costs. Other accommodation and living expenses, for example, were never included. And it’s also important to note that the cap will only ever cover the amount that a local authority would pay for care. In fact, recent reports show that this figure is, on average, 23% lower when it comes to residential care, than the average fees that private care homes charge. So, even after the cap has come into force, you or your loved ones may be required to pay the difference. On average this adds up to around £230 a week.

Clarity is definitely needed on these issues, but it seems clear that very little (if anything) has changed. Adults who need social care will still need to be means-tested, which often means that you or your loved ones will need to cover the additional costs. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like anything is going to change any time soon either, so having something else in place is becoming increasingly more important.