With the social care system under intense strain, we review the Conservative social care manifesto and explain its long-term impact
The 4-day old Conservative social care manifesto has this week undergone a review, or a complete rewriting if some commentators are to be believed. Here we review the proposed social care amends with a degree of scepticism given today’s U-turn and the previous pledges which didn’t come to fruition (the last Government said it would raise the asset threshold from £23,250 to £118,000 by it was shelved after the last election).
The 2017 Tory manifesto states that one of the ‘five giant challenges’ identified by Prime Minister Teresa May is our ageing society and last week Mrs May unveiled her social care proposal aimed at tackling this problem.
The social care manifesto has been received with largescale alarm – with The Times suggesting that the Treasury will make an extra £1.3billion per year by making those who receive care at home use the value of their property to contribute to costs.
Changes at a glance:
- Scrap a planned £72,000 cap on care costs, due to be implemented in 2020 (this was reinstated in yesterday’s U-turn)
- People with assets of more than £100,000 must pay for their home care – but could defer payment until after their death (interest will then be payable on what is in effect a loan from the council)
- The value of an elderly person’s property will now be included in the means test for care in their own home, meaning more people will be liable to contribute to the cost of being looked after.
Theresa May’s proposal to shake up the funding of social care for older people has come under intense criticism from opposition parties with the proposal, nicknamed the “dementia tax,” standing accused of removing the incentive for families to choose care at home over residential care and this week (May 22nd 2017) was effectively ripped up amid a startling policy U-turn.
Whilst is it universally acknowledged that the current social care system is at the point of collapse and long overdue for reform, the new plans set out by the Prime Minister will in fact see many more people paying for their home care.
Under the new Conservative blueprint, a planned £72,000 cap on care costs, which had been due to be implemented in 2020, was initially scrapped only to be reinstated 4 days after the manifesto launch (although the exact figure on the cap is yet to be confirmed). The so-called ‘care cap’ pledge, whereby nobody would have to pay more than £72,000 towards the cost of social care they receive at home, has been the subject of a complete U-turn by the Prime Minister. This reinstated cap, will combine with the new plans whereby no one with assets of less than £100,000 will have to pay for care. But significantly, for people being cared for in their own home that calculation now includes the value of their house.
Under the new scheme, if an individual’s assets are above £100,000 (three-quarters of people over the age of 65 are homeowners and the average value of a property in England is £233,000) they must pay for care at home until their asset value reaches that cut-off point. In England, almost three times as many people get help at home from their local councils than get a funded place in a care home or nursing home, so the proposed change will have significant implications.
Currently, people who have assets of more than £23,250 must pay for all their care, those with assets of between £14,250 and £23,250 receive some help and under £14,250, all care is funded. Additionally, under the current set-up if you move into a care home, the value of your house is included in your assets but if you receive care at home, the value of your house is not included.
The Conservatives have pledged that no one will have to sell their house during their lifetime to pay for the cost of care. To pay for care (if families do not want to sell the home) individuals can enter into a ‘deferred payment scheme’ with their local council. So, in effect, they will be taking out a loan from the council to cover care costs. After they die, and the next-of-kin sell the house, they must hand back what their parents borrowed to the council – plus interest.
The social care policy has come under fire by opposition parties and the public alike because older people are eligible for free NHS care for conditions such as cancer – but will in effect be forced to pay for conditions treated at home, including dementia.
We await the outcome of the General Election in June to see if this policy is implemented and in what format given the widespread condemnation and early revisions.
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.