A bad case of emperors new clothes springs to mind regarding the Government announcement last week of their initial proposals for the reform of social care. The big headline news of £36 billion over the first 3 years from the new Health and Social Care Levy sounded good, the full ballgown perhaps.
But, as you start to dig through the detail, so the clothes metaphorically fall away, to reveal at best a half-dressed Boris (what a thought).
What does it mean for you and me today?
For now, there’s been enough wringing of hands, and hopefully time and opportunity to engage with the proposals for a better outcome. But, what does the announcement mean for us right now before it all kicks in?
What is the new 'care cap'? What does it mean and when does it start?
From October 2023 no-one will pay more than £86,000 for their care. Sounds ok – but there is some detail to be considered….
The care cap (or ceiling) was first floated by Andrew Dilnot in 2011 as the only way to give people clarity and certainty over the maximum amount they would have to pay for care. Shelved at the time it is now the centrepiece of the Govts plans.
What you need to know:
- The care cap applies to care at home or in a care home; if the latter, the care cap only covers health and social care and not the “residential costs of living” – essentially board and lodging; so there is no free lunch in a care home…
- It is highly likely that anyone needing care – even if they are funding their own care – will need to be assessed by the local authority to be “in the system” so that the spend on care – at home or in a care home – is calculated and monitored. This will mean greater pressure on already strapped local authorities to provide assessments
What is the new 'care floor'? What does it mean and when does it start?
The second of Dilnot’s recommendations in 2011 was to give everyone a buffer financially and a point at which some or all care costs would be covered. Currently that figure is £23,500 but is being increased to £100,000.
What you need to know:
- From October 2023, if your parents have assets of more than £100,000 (excluding the home) they will be funding their own care (to a ceiling as above of £86,000)
Major considerations over the next 18 months
There are implications of these plans worth considering, particularly if you are at the early stages of care options…..
- Care home concerns – the viability of care homes must be called into question over the next 18 months; these plans have the potential to reduce their flexibility in how much they charge self-funders to help make up the shortfall of income from local authority placed residents. So – try and do as much research into the financial viability of a care home; question the pricing structure for different rooms, and what is included in the “board and lodging” element.
- Pressure on local authorities – this looks set to worsen – certainly whilst the plans for reform are developed further; there is no easy solution to this unfortunately; except maybe to do as much planning as you can to avoid the need to contact the local authority. You might also want to look at some of the amazing tech solutions available to help keep elderly parents safe at home.
- Bridging the gap: there must be the potential to actively not seek care or support over the next 18 months; perhaps the only way to look at this is even from today you can now start to plan for how much you are likely to have to pay for care costs, taking into account the delay until the care cap and floor actually start.
Families should investigate all options right now, particularly tech solutions that can help you to help them.
None of what has so far been announced is anywhere near perfect. It’s barely a start, giving some certainty to some people. We’ll continue to monitor the state of undress of BoJo and his partners in crime as their vision of the future of social care becomes clearer.
Annabel James is founder of Age Space. Her views are her own.