The cap on social care fees – will it help me?
On 7 September 2021, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a raft of social care reforms, and that he would be raising national insurance costs as well as raising the tax payable on dividends with effect from April 2022. To apparently sweeten this pill however, he also announced that there would be a cap on care costs of £86,000 in England (Wales, Scotland Northern Ireland all have devolved powers regarding social care). For those who remember The Dilnot Commission Report On Social Care from 2011 – which precedes the Care Act 2014 – this is welcome news as it strives to introduce some fairness on the payment for care.
What is social care?
Social care is not care provided for by the NHS – which remains a ‘cradle to grave’ free service (with exceptions such as the payment for prescriptions). Social care is care that covers the support provided to those who are unable to carry out daily tasks such as washing, dressing and eating. It is not – and this is important – the cost of accommodation-related costs of care – such as food, energy bills and the physical building. Why is this important? Because this aspect of care will not count towards the cap.
So, how do you differentiate? For those living at home and having carers visit them, they will remain responsible for paying for their own accommodation, heating, lighting, maintenance and food. The care cost will only be that which is bought in and even then, the local authority must have assessed the person who needs care as sufficiently frail, otherwise the clock on the cap will not start to run.
Social care assessments
We know that local authorities are under huge pressure to deal with their legal requirements already – how therefore will these assessments take place? How long will it be before the cap even starts? What about those who want more support than the local authority deems that they need?
We already know the difficulties there are in getting assessments for NHS Continuing Healthcare – which ensures care is paid for by the NHS if the primary reason for the need for care is health. Yet how many people struggle to get assessed in the first place? How many people pay for care that perhaps ought not to?
Care home costs
The headlines sound appealing, but the reality is that the cap will not necessarily mean that paying for care is no longer required. The average weekly cost of living in a residential care home is £704, while the average weekly cost of a nursing home is £888 across the UK. There are of course regional variations that will have an impact, for example in Bristol and London the average nursing home fees are between £1000 and £2000 a week. How much of these payments that go towards the care, and how much towards the ‘hotel costs’, will vary.
Specialist care funding advice
Planning for future care is important, even if the need is not immediate or even on the horizon. Speaking to a care funding expert as early as possible can help you put plans in place so that you have peace of mind, whatever the future holds.
To discuss your situation or questions with Heledd Wyn and the care team at GL Law, please call 0117 906 9400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org