The introduction of a cap on social care costs without further funding would increase pressure on a “broken” care market, the County Councils Network has warned.
Research by LaingBuisson, published today and commissioned by the CCN, found the higher social care fees paid by self-funders are currently subsidising the care market to the tune of £670m in the 37 English counties, as councils are forced to negotiate lower fees with providers for those who receive state support.
Laing Buisson said the Conservative Party manifesto proposal to protect £100,000 of a person’s savings and assets from being used to pay for social care would cost counties £308m a year.
The report found that as the policy would take many self-funders into state support, particularly in the North and the Midlands, it would also increase severe financial pressures on providers relying on private fees.
Laing Buisson also said that 22% of the care home population in the north would move from self-funding to state support due to lower property values, while this shift would be just 4% in the more affluent south-east.
Colin Noble (Con), Suffolk CC leader and CCN spokesman for health and social care said many care providers are at “a very real risk of collapse”.
He added: “The social care market is broken. This report demonstrates the acute pressures facing care markets across England and the complexity of implementing reforms that do not simply pile further pressure on local care providers. Whilst well intentioned, they could inadvertently push care homes closer to financial crisis.
“While limiting catastrophic care costs is important, the much more fundamental question is how we pay for it. We need an honest and open conversation with the public we must make sure that the promised social care green paper is not kicked into the long grass.”
The government had appeared to have backtracked on the manifesto proposal that would have offered state support to people with assets of £100,000.
But recently social care minister Jackie Doyle-Price reportedly said ”the whole issue of caps and floors” would be looked at as part of the government’s green paper on the future of social care funding.
The previous Conservative pledge to introduce of a cap of £72,000 would cost counties £330m a year, Laing Buisson found.
LaingBuisson also analysed the potential impact of reorganisation on care markets and found sub-county unitaries would “lock in” areas of high and low capacity by losing economies of scale in commissioning and cross-subsidy between self-funders and state-supported service users.