A new joint report on social care costs by ‘Independent Age’ and the ‘Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ has commented on the Government’s plans for people to fund their own social care.

The government’s proposed lifetime cap on care costs for adults in England is set at £72,000 and the latest plan was for it to come into force in 2020. However, this does not take into account the full costs of care, such as Daily Living Costs, which include food and accommodation, and make up a large part of annual care home costs.

According to the report under such a cap, a typical older person would end up paying more than £150,000 over six years in residential or nursing care and up to £300,000 over ten years. This is because they would still have to contribute to their daily living costs well after they had reached the cap.

Most people know that Adult Social Care and the funding of it is a huge national problem. This is certainly true in Northamptonshire with its growing elderly population! It has been an underestimation of this demand for a number of years which has contributed to the budgetary problems NCC is facing, and to their decisions to offer less and less services to the public with a stated desire from the Conservative Administration that ‘people should do more to look after themselves’.

As local cuts result in the council offering the bare minimum of service, doing only the things they are legally forced to do, how care is paid for is becoming a really important question.

Personally, I think that as a society we should offer our older generation much better services than they currently get. I worry that future plans will put even more of a burden on them and their families. The distinctions between health care (NHS – free) and Social Care (Council – chargeable) are often not understood and sometimes unfair.

I support a national, integrated system and recognise that central government has a much larger role to play in how it is funded and am pleased that Labour are committed to introducing a fairer system.

Julie Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, commenting on the new joint report said

“Older people still face grave uncertainty over the cost of care because of the social care policy vacuum created by a Tory Government bereft of ideas.

“Having U-turned on their disastrous dementia tax policy the Tories failed to tell us what the level of the cap on costs would be and they are now using a long-awaited Green Paper to kick a decision on long-term social care funding into the long grass.

“Labour will ease the crisis in social care by building a National Care Service based on the principle of shared risk so no-one faces catastrophic care costs as they do now.”

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said:

“Paying for care can be a huge burden on older people and their families as they try to manage their finances in older age. A cap on care costs is welcome, but it needs to be meaningful and transparent as to what costs the cap will cover.”

“The cap as proposed under the Care Act is neither of those things. Without an ‘all-inclusive cap’, people with the highest care needs will continue to see their costs rise well over £100,000. In the Green Paper on social care, the government must urgently set out plans to introduce a cap on care costs that covers all costs and will realistically be reached within the lifetime of an individual in care.”

“Only then will a cap make a material difference to the lives of older people in care.”

Photo by The U.S. National Archives