What the cap on care costs doesn't do

Elderly hand holding coins Ministers want to cap the costs of social care, but there are some caveats

Ministers are hailing their changes to social care as the solution to the long-standing problem of how to care for the elderly.

The introduction of a £75,000 cap - if introduced - will arguably be the first time the system has been overhauled since it was created along with the NHS after the Second World War.

Understandably, the plans have been widely welcomed with campaigners willing to give the government credit for doing this at a time when the financial situation makes it harder to do than it has been for a long-time.

But despite the breakthrough it is not quite the panacea it may seem on first glance.

Many people will still not get any help from the state

The government is effectively saying it wants to see a partnership between the state and individual.

It is promising to pick up the really high costs, while leaving the individual to cover the cost of the average care package.

But less than a fifth of people face costs in excess of £75,000, meaning the majority of people will still have to pay all of their bill.

About a quarter of people do not develop any care needs - or very little, while for another quarter the costs of care are below £20,000.

However, for a third of people the bill is between £20,000 and £75,000 - they will not get any help unless they fall below the means-testing threshold as the least well-off do not have to pay the full costs of care.

But of course many will say that is better than the current situation where people can face unlimited costs - and the hope is that the insurance industry will develop products that will cover the costs people face.

You won't be able to shop around for the best services

The cap only includes services that are available at the normal council cost.

If you want to move into a luxury care home or pay to get the best help you will have to cover that extra cost yourself.

Any spending above what the local council would have paid for would not count towards the cap, leaving the individual to top up their package.

It means relying on the current quality of services available if you want to stay within that £75,000 sum.

Unfortunately the system, according to the Local Government Association, is drastically under-funded, which is hampering the ability to meet the needs of the elderly.

The government spends less than £10bn a year on social care for the elderly - a tenth of what is spent on the NHS and a quarter of the defence budget.

The criteria for being entitled to social care help will be extremely high

Just because you develop a care need, it does not mean you will fall within the system.

Only those with needs classed as severe or substantial will be entitled to help - that basically means you need round-the-clock help.

Any spending before you reach that level of need will not count towards the £75,000 cap.

It will mean many will still have to struggle to get by on their own until their situation worsens.

That is no different to how it is now, although a decade ago many councils were able to offer help to those with low or moderate needs.

The social care system, in a nutshell, will only be there for the most frail.

Care homes will still be expensive places

A cap of £75,000 is a substantial sum of money, but on top of that people face paying so-called accommodation costs.

This is to cover the cost of things such as food, bills and renting the room.

Of course, these are the kind of costs elderly people face if they are in their own home - and that is one of the reasons why there is a state pension.

But with annual "accommodation" bills often hitting the £10,000 mark, a care home place will be a more expensive arrangement than the status quo for most.

Nick Triggle Article written by Nick Triggle Nick Triggle Health correspondent

Does the (care) cap fit?

A cap on care costs is being introduced in England. But many people will not benefit from it - and those that do could still end up paying for their care even when they hit it.

Read full article

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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.


    If you need government existence to survive at all during your twilight years you have failed at life.
    There is no such thing as a "genuinely needy" pensioner, only a crooked grey Mafia who those who feel entitled to suck the money out of productive taxpayers pockets to fuel the remaining days of life of poor decisions and recklessness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Once again a story about the moral and responsible paying for everyone else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Dont Agree

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I'm pretty sure that most care home owners response will be just to up the amount they charge to maximise profits. Unfortunately, as a society we are basically reaping the reward of Thatcher’s free market ideology and the closing down of Council Care Homes and the ending of home-helps during the eighties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    19.Sydney "...than encourage your family to make their own way in life by not relying on the assistance of an inherited house. House versus life?"

    When no longer able to be independent life will cease to be the same. Death is inevitable. Medics can't cure you of that and I'd sooner "pass on" than spend 10 years rotting with dementia in a care home.There are many who feel the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    The simple way to avoid the constant stream of cost saving measures that are being trumped up by this wonderfully austere goverment is not to be poor, don't be disabled, keep your job at all times, make sure that you go to a good "connected" school and don't ever have to rely on benefits...

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    13 - they have had their entire life to prepare for this moment...
    Sorry, but the point missed here is that those who haven't prepared for this moment are the ones who will get everything free. In amongst the genuinely needy are a vast number of lazy individuals who haven't bothered working. This is wrong! Those of us who have worked and paid in should not be paying in until we die.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    This has the smell of Osborne and Alexander all over it. Basically a hyped up headline used to mask a tax increase for the majority; and a weak response which will not sort out the fundamental problem of extortionate care home fees.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Keep working and hope I drop dead at my desk

    >It gets me. People who have worked all their lives and paid a lot into the system (basic tax used to be ~33% in the 60s) kept this country running should now be SO demoralised by this ridiculous government handing even more to the wealthy and giving shirkers everything free. Saddening for them. Horrible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    I am trying to keep my widowed mother in her home for as long as she has her mind and is not a danger to herself. Paying for care when her time comes? Well the government can use some of the NI and taxes my father paid before he died in 1985 and didn't get to see a state pension.
    NI should foot the bill for basic care free of charge for all if we are a civilized society

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    To Marylyn - Although it's something you've no doubt anticipated and given a lot of thought to,it seems sad and peverse to me that you would rather deprive yourself of care & dignity in your old age, than encourage your family to make their own way in life by not relying on the assistance of an inherited house. House versus life?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    The only form of state subsidies old people should receive is a plane ticket to Switzerland

    =>Nonsense. We need to legalise a facility here - NOT run by politicians and the NHS obviously thinking of the mistakes they make. Disgusting that people who choose to die in dignity have to go abroad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    14.grouting tiles
    I'm not saying that under all circumstances the state should pay for everything but the inconsistency in logic needs addressing

    >Trouble is if you go for a private nursing home you'll pay away your fortune at £800-£2000/week. Go for a state-run place you risk all the nasties you hear about as they hire the cheapest carers and calculate the risk of being done by the CQC

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I must concur with the comments of The Baron #7. Whilst it is unrealistic to expect the State to bankroll our care in old age, yet again it rewards the feckless who have spent their lives on fast food, hard liquor, and slow horses and invested nothing in their own future by requiring those that have been prudent to pick up their own tab.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Just noticed Red Robin's comment and think it is a good idea, will I remember how to get to Spain when I have dementia, or even top myself like Marylyn suggests.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    The even bigger question is the arbitrary divide / definition between free NHS medical care and paid for care.

    If you need care and will die / deteriorate without it why should that be treated differently ? I'm not saying that under all circumstances the state should pay for everything but the inconsistency in logic needs addressing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The only form of state subsidies old people should receive is a plane ticket to Switzerland.

    What else do the old have to spend their money on except for their home care, food and energy bills? they have had their entire life to prepare for this moment, why should they bankrupt the future of the country so they can eek out a couple of extra years?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    All that will happen is the owners of these private, and they will be private, retirement homes will do is increase the costs of accommodation and food, whilst getting a hand out from the government. Funny how for them it will be covering cost of health care. but a handout for everyone else is seen as scrounging. Once again the rich will suck up our taxes with the excuse they are caring for us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Wonderful, I have worked all my life and paid national insurance for what !.
    So that I can pay even more out when I really need something back from the country.
    Keep working and hope I drop dead at my desk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    back in the 80s a surveyor friend of mine was waffling about some pals investing in a nursing home because of the large profts that can be made as the Gov was giving up providing care and handing it to the private sector, so lets be honest about all this, the vast majority of the supposed costs for care is the profit that the care homes make.


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