Thomas Bridge 17 July 2015

Launch of cap on care costs shelved until 2020

Launch of cap on care costs shelved until 2020

The Government is to delay introduction of a lifetime cap on care costs by four years, prompting 'outrage' from care and housing providers.

Launch of the key manifesto commitment will now take place in 2020, following concern from local government about reforms to adult social care during such an 'unstable' phase for the sector.

Introduction of the £72,000 cap on what an individual has to pay before receiving state support was originally due to come into force next April.

In a letter to Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the Local Government Association's (LGA) community wellbeing board, care minister Alistair Burt said it was 'not the right moment to be implementing expensive new commitments'.

Burt wrote: 'we have taken the difficult decision to delay the introduction of the cap on care costs system and that this will now be introduced from April 2020. I want to assure you that this is not a decision that has been taken lightly, but one that has followed from consideration of the genuine concerns.'

The move followed mounting concerns from local authorities over the availability of funding to support delivery of reforms under the Care Act and the existing adult social care system.

Burt wrote that the Government would 'continue with other efforts to support social care' particularly through efforts to drive integration with the NHS.

Responding to the announcement, Cllr Seccombe said: 'The announcement to delay the second phase of the Care Act is a positive recognition from government of what the LGA has been warning- that we cannot try and reform the way people pay for adult social care when the system itself is on such an unstable foundation.

'Any money from delaying the reforms must be put back into adult social care services and support putting it on a sustainable footing. The funding gap in adult social care is growing by a minimum of £700m a year, and whilst this will not cover the rapidly increasing care costs councils are facing, it will be better than to attempt to push forward with changes on shaky grounds.'

Chief executive of older people's charity Independent Age, Janet Morrison, said the delay was 'a belated recognition' of the 'immense strain' placed upon the system.

'However the cap must not be quietly abandoned - it is a necessary measure to protect older people against the "catastrophic" care costs that some will face,' Morrison added.

Not for profit care and housing provider Anchor said it was 'outraged' by the delay, with its CEO, Jane Ashcroft stating the 'outrageous' plans 'suggest that social care reform is simply not a priority for government'.

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