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Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board
Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of care home provider, Anchor
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The Government has announced it is delaying plans that would have capped pensioners’ care costs to £72,000 until 2020, saying it cannot fund them at the current time. The £72,000 care cap was due to be implemented in April 2016 and was designed to stop older people and younger people with disabilities having to sell their homes when they went into care. The cap was a solution put forward by the Dilnot Commission in 2011.
Health minister Lord Prior said the Government is still “firmly committed” to the Care Cap but added that it is “not the right moment to be implementing expensive new commitments such as this”.
The Local Government Association (LGA) which had raised concerns about the impact of the cap on councils called it “positive recognition from Government of what the LGA has been warning – that we cannot try and reform the way people pay for adult social care when the system itself is on such an unstable foundation”.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “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.”
She added that “any money from delaying the reforms must be put back into adult social care services and support putting it on a sustainable footing. The funding gap in adult social care is growing by a minimum of £700m a year, and whilst this will not cover the rapidly increasing care costs councils are facing, it will be better than to attempt to push forward with changes on shaky grounds.”
News of the delay was not so warmly received by some in the care sector. Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of Anchor, called it “outrageous” and said: “We’re very disappointed by the announcement from the Department for Health revealing a delay of the cap on individuals’ care costs. A delay of four years, until 2020, is outrageous and brings into question the future of care funding.
“Successive governments have failed to prioritise reform – despite the mounting crisis. This further delay suggests that social care reform is simply not a priority for Government.
“We desperately hope this lengthy delay in policy is because the Government is planning to urgently address how care is funded – a major issue for today’s older people as well as future generations.”
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire), also said he was dismayed at the news.
“At £72,000 the care cap was well below the £35,000 that had been recommended by the Dilnot Commission to protect older people from having to give up all they had worked and saved for to pay for their care,” he said.
“It was always a compromise, now even that £72,000 cap has been postponed, sweeping away older people’s hopes of not having to sell their home to pay for care.
“Former care minister Norman Lamb talked of putting “risk and fear of catastrophic costs firmly where they belong: in the confines of history”. Unfortunately, those catastrophic costs are back to haunt us again.
“There is talk of the Government looking at social care in its upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review and it is vital for the care of older and vulnerable people across the country that it does so.
“But with this and previous governments’ record on social care, we won’t be holding our breath. “The introduction of the National Living Wage last week will, unless it is matched by better funding in social care, put huge pressure on the very survival of many social care providers.
“The announcement on the care cap is another hammer blow against the proper care of older and vulnerable people and something has to change.”
16 Oct 2015 3:46 PM
Only a naive fool or a self-harmer would ever have believed that this care cap could be implemented in an era where the government are starving local authorities of funds. If the government chose to do the right thing, it would bring in a robin-hood tax on the banks, then there would be no need for this austerity swindle. Carers - next time, use your vote wisely.