A £36,000 lifetime cap on care costs for older people would cost £3.6bn by 2035, research into the costs and trade-offs of reforming long-term care for older people has revealed.
In 2011, the Dilnot Commission found people with similar needs were getting ‘very different’ levels of support and recommended a £35,000 cap on the amount an individual must pay for their own care costs during their lifetime.
The research published by the University of East Anglia, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Pensions Policy Institute calculated this would cost £3.6bn by 2035.
It also found that rolling out a minimum level of social care to all older people with high needs and limited resources would cost a similar amount.
‘How best to reform the system of financing social care has proved a challenge for successive governments,’ said associate professorial research fellow Raphael Wittenberg, from the personal social services research unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
‘There are difficult trade-offs to address. How far should additional resources be focused on relaxing the means test to help people with substantial care needs who because of the means test currently fund their own care?
‘And how far should they be focused on people with limited resources who currently do not receive publicly funded care because their needs are not assessed as sufficiently substantial to meet the eligibility criteria?
‘In order to inform decisions we have examined in detail the likely impacts of a range of potential reforms.’
The proposed reforms investigated include previous plans for a £72,000 lifetime cap on care costs; suggestions for a cap on care costs which covers daily living costs in care homes as well as care costs; free personal care as implemented in Scotland; the Conservative Party manifesto suggestion of including housing wealth in the means test for home care.
The report reveals that easing the means test would enable those who fund their own care with their savings or incomes to receive publicly funded care.
Funding care for a greater number of older people would also enable those with high needs and limited resources, who may currently rely on unpaid care, to receive publicly funded care.
The research shows that extending social care to all older people with at least moderate needs and limited resources would cost £5.8bn by 2035. This amount would also allow free personal care to be provided to all older people in England.