Ministers announce four-year delay on introduction of care cap

17 Jul 15

Flagship government plans to implement a £72,000 cap on an individual’s lifetime care costs are to be delayed for four years due to spending reductions, it has been announced today.

In a written ministerial statement, health minister Lord Prior insisted the government continued to support the policy, devised by the Dilnot commission, but was unable to fund it at the current time.

The £72,000 maximum personal liability was to be introduced from April next year, but will not now be in place until 2020, he said.

“This government still accepts that recommendation and remains firmly committed to delivering this historic change.

“However, the proposals to cap care costs and create a supporting private insurance market were expected to add £6bn to public sector spending over the next 5 years.”

At a time of fiscal consolidation it was “not the right moment to be implementing expensive new commitments such as this”, Prior added. The changes form the second part of the government’s Care Act reforms.

The Local Government Association had raised concerns about the impact of the cap on councils. Authorities will be required to undertake assessments for all service users, even those who currently fund all their own care costs, so they could be counted towards the cap.

“Therefore in light of genuine concerns raised by stakeholders, we have taken the difficult decision to delay the introduction of the cap on care costs system until April 2020,” Prior stated.

“The introduction of the cap on care costs system will be the biggest reform to how care is paid for since 1948 and we must ensure that the new system works from day one. Local authorities and partners have consistently warned us of the risks of implementing this too quickly. We will therefore not be complacent, but work hard to use this additional time to ensure that everyone is ready to introduce the new system and that people can understand what it will mean for them.”

This would include using the additional time to “take stock on some of the other elements of the care and support reforms that are intended to support the cap system”, the minister said.

In a letter to Izzi Seccombe, the LGA’s community wellbeing board chair, community and social care minister Alistair Burt said the delay would also apply the introduction of the duty on authorities to meet the eligible care needs of self-funders based on a “substantial” level of need.

“We will also now defer the introduction of the proposed appeals system for care and support to enable it to be considered as part of the wider Spending Review that will launch shortly,” he added.

“Reforming the care and support system is no easy task and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all the help and support that the LGA have provided on this journey and I very much hope that you will continue to do so as we move forward together.”

Seccombe said the decision recognised that “we cannot try and reform the way people pay for adult social care when the system itself is on such an unstable foundation”. The funding gap in the care system is growing by £700m a year, she added.

“Local government was ready and able to implement the next phase of the Care Act – we have supported the need for reform to the way people pay for their care and still believe this to be necessary. In an ideal world, we would have funding for both the system and the reforms but we have to be realistic about where scarce resources are needed most.

“Local authorities have already implemented phase one of the Care Act, and if both the reforms and the care system were fully funded, we would not need to suggest a delay.”

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