Future of social care funding
4 July 2011
The Commission on Funding of Care and Support has released its long-awaited report into the funding of adult social care in England. It recommends capping costs and increasing the means testing threshold.
The independent commission, set up by the Government last July, was asked to recommend a fair and sustainable funding system for adult social care in England.
Under the current system individuals pay all their care costs unless they have assets of less than £23,250. The report proposed that those with high care costs would only pay up to a set amount and after that their care costs would be paid for by the State.
Among the recommendations in the report are:
- Individuals’ lifetime contributions towards their social care costs – which are currently potentially unlimited – should be capped. After the cap is reached, individuals would be eligible for full state support. This cap should be between £25,000 and £50,000. We consider that £35,000 is the most appropriate and fair figure;
- The means-tested threshold, above which people are liable for their full care costs, should be increased from £23,250 to £100,000;
- National eligibility criteria and portable assessments should be introduced to ensure greater consistency; and
- All those who enter adulthood with a care and support need should be eligible for free state support immediately rather than being subjected to a means test.
The Commission estimates that its proposals – based on a cap of £35,000 – would cost the State around £1.7billion.
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope said:
“The Government must not let this opportunity go to waste.
“Andrew Lansley must stand up for millions of people that rely on an under-funded, inconsistent and at times unfair social care system, and fight for the funding needed to make Dilnot’s recommendations a reality.
“For people with lifelong conditions, it’s not just about the risk of having to sell their home due to uncapped care costs. “Many working age disabled people will never be able to buy a home in the first place, because the current system of social care means testing effectively penalises them for saving.
“If they build up savings, income or a home worth over £23,250, they risk dropping off of the means-testing ‘cliff edge’ and having to spend every penny they have saved on staggering care costs. This puts them back to square one, and leaves them without the financial resilience for unexpected shocks.
“We are delighted that Dilnot has acknowledged this as one of the most serious problems of the current system.
“We back his plans to esnure that all those who enter adulthood with a care and support need should be eligible for free state support immediately rather than being subjected to a means test.
“This will smooth the often treacherous transition from children’s services to adult social care.”
On an ‘end to the social care postcode lottery’ and the issue of ‘portability’ he added:
“Dilnot says national eligibility criteria and portable assessments should be introduced to ensure greater consistency.
“At the moment eligibility varies and interpretations of eligibility vary between boroughs. There needs to be a consistent level of care across the country.
“We fully support Dilnot’s recommendation to end this ‘postcode lottery’.
“We also welcome Dilnot’s focus on what is known as ‘portability’.
“At present, many disabled people are being prevented and delayed from moving home because they cannot take their social care support with them. They need to be reassessed each time they move to a new local authority area.
“These unnecessary legal limitations seriously restrict where disabled people can live and for many, where they are able to work. In some cases people have a job offer waiting for them but cannot accept it until the local authorities reach an agreement.
“The Government wants to see more disabled people in work, but many are being prevented from doing so by this bureaucracy.”