BBC Radio 4’s ‘You & Yours’ programme recently ran a feature on Social Care & the crisis ridden NHS has formed a major part of the three main parties’ 2017 manifestos with all three promising more money for health care.
On May 30th 2017, BBC Radio 4’s ‘You & Yours’ programme ran a programme on Social Care highlighting the strength of feeling regarding the current system. The programme asked listeners “how are you covering the cost of care?” and the recurring theme from callers was the perceived unfairness of the system which was asking independent paying families to pay up to £2000 a month for care whilst council funded patients received the same level of care for a fraction of the price. Callers also explained that selling the family home was the only option available to most people and the concern was apparent amongst many listeners regarding how to fund the same level of care for their loved ones once their money and assets ran out. One caller faced the prospect of having to move his sister to a new home which would be an unsettling and stressful experience for her.
Since the publication of the Conservative manifesto last week, attention has been focused on the proposed reforms (and subsequent U-turn) to the way care for the elderly is funded.
The original manifesto did not mention an overall cap on costs, instead proposing a £100,000 limit beyond which people’s assets would be protected. However, 4 days after the first manifesto was launched Prime Minister Theresa May declared that there would be a cap on how much people paid for care – a change from the original policy which included no cap. She was not however able to say what level the cap would be set at but said the amount would be decided in in a post-election consultation.
Meanwhile, both the Liberal Democrat and Labour manifestos describe social care as being in a “state of crisis”.
Currently people with cancer or acute illness are deemed to have health needs and these needs are met by the NHS but those who develop dementia, have chronic neurological conditions or disabilities, are deemed to have social care needs. All parties pledge to make health and social care more collaborative to eliminate the grey area whereby many patients fall through the gaps.
- No one with less than £100,000 in assets should pay for care – the current rate is £23,250.
(Currently, the starting position, in the absence of NHS funding, is that if an individual has assets exceeding £23,250 then they are liable to pay for the cost of their care in full, whether they receive care at home with carers, or if they are paying care home costs in a residential or nursing home. Even when the assets of the individual fall below £23,250 they have to continue to part contribute from their assets to their care home costs until they fall below £14,000. Even when this lower threshold is met the individual will be required to contribute towards their care home costs from any income they receive)
- At-home care will be means-tested in the same way as residential care, forcing more people to pay for care (there are uncertainties about whether family homes are more likely to count towards the cap)
- Care payments from the value of a family home will be deferred until after both partner’s die
- Labour will introduce a ‘National Care Service’ to provide a “joined up” approach to care at an estimated cost of £3billion initially
Liberal Democrats pledges:
- The Lib Dems state that the NHS is on the brink of crisis and pledge to spend 1p in the pound of Income Tax on NHS and social care services whilst limiting care costs for the elderly. However, they stop short of actually naming a figure for this promised care cap – instead stating that they will:
“Finish the job of implementing a cap on the cost of social care, which the Conservatives have effectively abandoned.”
We await the outcome of the General Election in June to which party takes control of the NHS and which promises and pledges are actually implemented.
Crucially, the fundamental position remains; if your need for care is primarily a health need then NHS continuing healthcare funding is available which will cover the cost of your care in its entirety. If you have complex, substantial and ongoing health needs and you think you may qualify for continuing healthcare, our website provides a bank of useful information including video blogs and FAQ articles. Alternatively, complete our free, confidential assessment today and an expert member of our team will contact you for a no obligation discussion to outline your options.
Author: Tim Davies LLB