THE government has delayed plans to introduce a cap on adult social care costs of £72,000 until 2020 amid council funding fears, it was announced yesterday.
The limit on residential care bills is being pushed back from next year to the last weeks of the current Parliament, ministers confirmed, as “genuine concerns” were raised about how cash-strapped local authorities would meet the shortfall.
The cap is part of the former coalition government’s Care Act to safeguard elderly people from huge bills and having to sell off their homes to pay them.
Also, the threshold for asset value that limits people being eligible for help towards costs was due to rise from £23,250 to £118,000, but those plans are also being delayed.
“Chronic underfunding” of social care needs to be tackled now the government has recognised that it has to invest more money in councils and to ease pressure on the NHS, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said.
“Ministers had hoped that private insurance schemes would spring up and, not surprisingly, they haven’t,” he added.
The Local Government Association (LGA) wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier this month calling for a delay because the social care funding gap was growing by a minimum of £700 million a year.
“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,” LGA community wellbeing chairperson Izzi Seccombe said.
Shadow minister for care and older people Liz Kendall said: “This government gives with one hand and takes with another.
While they found the money to pay for an inheritance tax cut for the most well-off, they are rowing back on their manifesto promise to cap the cost of care for the many.”