The Care Act 2016 – Will care costs be capped?
The Care Act 2014 (‘the Act’) represents the most significant reform of the law governing care and support in over 60 years. The aim of the Act is to give individuals greater independence and control over their lives and the care and support that they receive.
The Act is now largely in force. However, provisions which impose a cap on social care costs have yet to be implemented.
Between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, 873,000 people received long-term adult social care provided by local authorities in England. 245,000 people received short-term care.
Eligibility for financial assistance from the state for social care is currently means-tested. People with assets worth over £23,250 have to pay the full cost of their care. The value of a person’s home is taken into account when a person is living in a residential care home, but not when receiving care in their own home. This forces many people to sell their homes in order to pay for their residential care costs and can lead to people paying thousands of pounds for their care, depleting their assets which they might otherwise have left to their families.
The government originally pledged to cap the lifetime costs of a person’s care at £72,000 from April 2016. The implementation date was then delayed until 2020. However, the outcome of the general election on 8 June 2017 has led to further uncertainty.
The Conservative manifesto was silent on the issue of introducing a cap on social care costs. Theresa May then announced there will be an ‘absolute limit’ on care costs but would not reveal further details of the level of the limit until after the election.
Theresa May’s manifesto proposed changes to the eligibility test for financial assistance with care costs. People would be responsible for paying their own care costs until their assets are worth £100,000 or less. A person’s home will be included in their assets when assessing financial assistance for both care provided at their own home and for residential care. However, May promised that people will not be made to sell their home during their lifetime with costs recovered after death instead. The suggested changes attracted some negative press comment.
Jeremy Corbyn said that he would ensure that there is a limit on lifetime contributions to care costs and that he would raise the threshold below which people are entitled to financial assistance. However, values were not provided for the lifetime care cap or for the financial assistance threshold.
It is highly likely that there will be changes to the provision of financial assistance for social care following the general election but with the uncertainty caused by the hung parliament and the priority given to negotiating Brexit it is difficult to know what might happen and when. We are monitoring developments carefully and will post further updates as the position changes. If you would like advice on funding social care or planning for the future, please contact Stephen Horscroft, a managing associate in the private client team on 01892 506 341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.