Councils across England wrote to ministers asking for a delay because of the “enormous pressures” under-funded social care faces. The latest pressure being the introduction of the forthcoming National Living Wage.
The cap was to be set at £72,000 for over 65 year olds and younger adults with disabilities from April 2016.
Responding to reports on a delay to the second phase of the Care Act, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, 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.
“Local government was ready and able to implement the next phase of the Care Act – we have supported the need for reform to the way people pay for their care and still believe this to be necessary. In an ideal world, we would have funding for both the system and the reforms but we have to be realistic about where scarce resources are needed most. Local authorities have already implemented phase one of the Care Act, and if both the reforms and the care system were fully funded, we would not need to suggest a delay.
“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 £700 million 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.”
Sue Brown, Head of Public Policy at Sense, said:
“Sense welcomes the fact that the Government has recognised that this is not the right time to introduce the cap.
“Addressing the underfunding of social care is a more urgent priority than a cap. The cut to spending on social care, combined with a growing number of people needing support has had a significant impact on social care services. We have seen many disabled and older people miss out on the services they desperately need for day-to-day life due to the rising eligibility criteria.
“Inadequate social care has a knock on effect and results in further demands on the NHS. For example, the deafblind people we support can become more susceptible to falls or require hospital treatment because they didn’t get the support they needed from social care.
“Looking ahead to the Comprehensive Spending Review, it is vital the Government releases enough funds for local authorities to provide the right level of social care support for what is currently a chronically underfunded system. Only once we have a stable care system can we consider introducing a cap.”
Care England, the largest representative body for social care has today called on the government to use the announcement that it is to postpone the Care Cap as an opportunity to look at a long-term funding solution for social care.
Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England said:
“The announcement that the government are going to postpone the care cap, alongside the previous announcement on a new national living wage, means that we must now, once and for all, use this time to develop a long-term and sustainable funding solution for social care. If the government refuses to address the issue of funding, we will have a care system in crisis and the NHS unable to cope with the pressure”.
Professor Green continued:
“The Government must not duck the opportunity with the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), to address the underfunding in social care. Care England has, and will continue to, evidence the funding gap for independent care home and home care services.”
Jeremy Hughes CEO at Alzheimer’s Society said:
“We’re disappointed at today’s announcement delaying the care cap for another four years. This will cause unacceptable costs to continue to be borne by people with dementia and their families into the next decade. Whilst other diseases receive significantly more support on the NHS, dementia patients who often need long term nursing care are still to be left to fend for themselves.
The care cap is only part of the solution – the significant underfunding of social care must also be addressed and be a key feature in the Spending Review. However, it is insupportable that financial pressures on local Councils should be the excuse for people with dementia not being able to access vital care and support.”
Alex Edmans, Head of Retirement for Saga commented “Moving the goal posts by delaying the introduction of the care cap will come as a bitter disappointment for those already in receipt of care who will now have to pay an additional four year’s fees before their costs start to count towards the cap – meaning even fewer are likely to reach it within their lifetime. “The delay is a further indication that Government are not putting enough aside to properly fund our ailing care system and that more people will end up spending significantly more on their care. Whilst the use of an immediate needs annuity could help limit how much of an individual’s estate is spent on care, this change makes clear that our care system is in crisis and that paying for care will, in many instances, remain the responsibility of the individual.
“We hope that this time is used to ensure that the reforms are properly funded and individuals already paying towards their care costs are not subject to further delays and crippling care costs.”
Anchor CEO, Jane Ashcroft CBE, has commented on this announcement and the impact on care funding and what needs to be done to ease older people’s concerns:
“We’re very disappointed by today’s announcement from the Department for Health revealing a delay of the cap on individuals’ care costs. A delay of four years, until 2020, is outrageous and brings into question the future of care funding.
“Successive governments have failed to prioritise reform – despite the mounting crisis. This further delay suggests that social care reform is simply not a priority for government.
“Adequate funding is an absolute priority, as is system reform. Ignoring the need for reform will only aggravate the concerns of older people about how well their needs are being represented in Parliament. Anchor’s research has found that 71% of people aged over 55 said that politicians were dealing badly with challenges of an ageing population. The changes to care funding are vital for people of all ages. Our survey found 50% of over 55s said they were worried about being able to afford adequate care in their old age, yet more than a third (36%) had not even heard about the proposed changes.
“We desperately hope this lengthy delay in policy is because the Government is planning to urgently address how care is funded – a major issue for today’s older people as well as future generations.
Jim Boyd, Director of Corporate Affairs at Partnership, said:
“With an estimated 150,000 people entering care each year, the introduction of the Care Bill was supposed to provide them with a consistent framework in which to make concrete plans around care funding. The delay of the introduction of the ‘Care Cap’ to 2020 will therefore be a blow to them and their families who will need to continue to pay an average of £28,600 per year.
“However, this will come as a huge relief for the Local Authorities who are reeling under the impact of budget cuts and already face a significant demand for care needs assessments. At a time of fiscal constraint it is not surprising that this expensive proposal has been delayed but the risk is that it may well disappear which may create further uncertainty.
“At the moment, those who are looking for the opportunity to cap their liabilities but secure a guaranteed income for life, while in care have the option to choose an immediate needs care annuity. These products continue to fulfil a critical need – one which is sure to grow as the population ages.”