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Hunt to outline £75,000 social care cap

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Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is to announce details of a plan to cap social care costs at £75,000.

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Under the plan, the cap will be introduced in 2017. It will be accompanied by an increase in the asset threshold for receiving state support with care costs, from £23,500 to £123,000, meaning that many more people will be eligible for local authority funding towards their care.

There will also be support for people who have care needs when they turn 18, and for people who need care before they reach retirement age. The reforms are expected to be funded in part by a freeze on the inheritance tax threshold.

A Department of Health spokesman said Mr Hunt (left) would announce details of this support, as well as further information about the £75,000 cap, in a House of Commons statement this afternoon. It is expected to take place at about 4.30pm.

The spokesman also addressed criticisms that the cap was set too high, stressing that a £75,000 cap in 2017 monetary terms would be the equivalent of introducing a £61,000 cap at 2011 price levels, which is when the Dilnot Commission proposed capping costs. The commission said the cap should be set at between £35,000 and £50,000.

Local government figures have welcomed the principle of the cap, but raised concerns that it does not go far enough.

Sarah Pickup, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “Today’s announcement is welcome as a step on a journey, as a piece of a puzzle…But we must be clear that the journey needs to continue.”

She said the cap would not bring any new money into the system to pay for care, and that the underfunding of the system needed an “urgent answer”.

‘Disproportionate impact’

Ms Pickup also said it would be important for the government to consider how to distribute the extra funding between councils, because the cost of extra care funding would vary widely between different local authority areas.

David Rogers (Lib Dem), chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said the cap was a “positive step”. However, he said, “on its own a cap is not enough to sort out long-term care and will mean little if the starting point is a system that is massively underfunded and unable to cope with the pressures of our rapidly ageing population.”

Cllr Rogers also echoed Ms Pickup’s concern about the distribution of funds between councils, saying he was “concerned about the disproportionate financial implications this cap could have on councils in different parts of the country.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Hamish Dibley

    The Government’s (sometime in the future) ‘flagship’ policy on social care funding is not radical reform in action. Indeed, the proposals on social care funding announced last week represent the worse kind of sticky-plaster solution. They are based on dodgy Dilnot Commission data of projected demand for services, out-of-date unit costs for domiciliary and residential care and misguided behavioural assumptions over people’s willingness to take out care insurance. The cap cost model for social care will not result in a market for pre-funded care insurance.

    Both Dilnot and the Government’s response rest on economic modelling that do not take into account variation but instead utilise the ‘average of averages’ for both residential care stay and care costs. Moreover, the care cap and means-tested threshold simply entrench fragmentation and disconnect between health and social care services.

    Far more importantly, we seemingly have a blinkered focus on funding allocation that assumes more care demands equal more resources and that there is no bad money or waste in health and social care. This is an entirely false assumption to make. Given this week’s announcement and resulting obsession with bandying around funding cap and threshold figures perhaps we could focus on a few telling ones?

    During the lifetime of the current spending review the NHS will provide £7.2 billion of support to local authorities for 'health-related needs’ in the provision of social care. During the present financial year we will have spent £108.4 billion on the NHS and £9.3 billion on social care. We know that typically 70 percent of patients in NHS hospitals have social care, not acute medical, needs. We should be asking ourselves if we actually have a funding crisis or whether we have a failure to intelligently lead, manage and spend crisis. I’ll leave that as a rhetorical question.

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