Costs would be capped and the means-tested threshold increased under major changes to the funding of adult social care in England, recommended by the Commission on Funding of Care and Support in its final report ‘Fairer Care Funding’.
Instead of individuals paying all their care costs until they have assets of less than £23,250, as under the current system, the proposals would mean 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.
In the next twenty years, the number of people aged 85 and over in England is projected to double to 2.4 million. 17% of people aged over 85 require long-term care and 40,000 homes are sold each year to pay for this.
The commission believes that this combination of a cap and the higher means-tested threshold would ensure that no-one going into residential care would have to spend more than 30 % of their assets on their care costs. Under the current system, at the extreme, people face losing over 90 % of their assets.
If costs are capped it would require at least an extra £1.7bn in government funding per year to fund social care in England; it could cost £2 billion a year.
The report has put the government on the spot as to whether or not it will pay for what it promised. The government had hoped that the report would suggest compulsory insurance but all it does is offer wishy-washy comment about insurers needing to work with government. The care insurance market never took off and the market collapsed, apart from equity release products that many feel are not suitable vehicles.
Long term care news: 8 July 2011