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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    I really don't see why a person who no longer has need of their house should have it protected just so it can passed on to relatives in inheritance - provided of course that there is no spouse still living in it. If that is the case then of course they must not be forced in to selling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Where did all that QE fiat money go ?

    Don't you think thatsomething is dreadfully wrong when society is working for the good of finance ? Making people who all their lives have workd sell the fruit of a lifetime to pay for something that they have already paid for !
    We must NATIONALIZE our GOVTs, and everything else that is ESSENTIAL !!!
    The Welfare State belongs to the PEOPLE !

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    " and the hope is that the insurance industry will develop products that will cover the costs people face." ?

    -- show me anywhere where THAT works !

    In Germany there is compulsory extra and separate state ´care´ insurance --much more secure and honest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    ........What else do the old have to spend their money on except for their home care, food and energy bills...why should they bankrupt the future of the country .....?

    There is no such thing as a "genuinely needy" pensioner, only a crooked grey Mafia ....

    Oh my.....there is a serious lack of empathy for your fellow human beings in everything you say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    The usual suspects seem very distrustful of care home owners and seem to imagine they are all fat cats that know George Osborne personally. This presumably even means the many charitable trusts and organisations such as Anchor and Extracare in the sector. We obviously need more transparency on care home fees and to encourage more providers. Surely the Cooperative movement can have a role here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    If only every one was as good as you but not everone can earn the money you do thats why there is state help we are not an equal society and why slag off those who watch jeremy kyle seems to be all the rage to do that remember you have as you say made a choice to work some stay with their loved ones

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Most people in this country don't pay enough tax to even subsidise the services they receive everyday like doctors & schools etc let alone pensions & old age care. So its important that those that have benefited the most from the society they live in contribute to their care if they can. Personally i don't like these arrangements a sliding scale of contributions would be fairer in my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Surely this is at least a step in the right direction and if it comes to fruition will, as the article states, be the first such overhaul since the NHS inception. I have not read the rest of the comments but no doubt there will be some rabid pro Con or pro Lab articles. The thing is that this is an apolitical move and should be welcomed. Like the referendum on vote change, it is but a first step.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.


    Cant wait till you are old, what a disgusting comment to make. Hope you have a short life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    The problem with all means-tested or needs-tested welfare is that, far from alleviating those in need, it actually pushes people INTO those classes to get the funding. Perhaps that's the government's intention. Get all the old folks to spend their nest-eggs and boost the economy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Those in real need should be supported, but more importantly, individuals should be taught money management from an early age.
    ***That would risk the plebs rumbling the way they are being conned. Nice thought but much too dangerous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    128. When NHS was formed from the cradle to the grave was possible but it was for "real" illness not tummy tucks,fertility drugs, tummy bands and the "vanity" operations that is expected now. What is wrong is that the benefit system where no one wants to work so get lifestyle at tax payers cost, means although they will not have paid any NI contributions they will still get "ALL" their care free

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    108. davhow
    Norway is a socialist country and they have a high percentage of entrepreneurs. Just because people believe in equality and care for the vulnerable does not negate creativity. Socialism is not communism, just like capitalism is not fascism.

    Norway does not have the right-wing media like we do though which constantly pushes US style dog-eat-dog brainwashing down our necks 24/7.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Please will somebody justify why it's fair that somebody who saves all their life and has savings has to pay for their care while somebody who has not had the sense or prudence to save gets the same care from the state. Surely in a 'fair' society if the state pays for one person the next man should get the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Consider preventive medicine. If it works then the number of elderly requiring long term nursing home care b4 death should be dropping.

    If preventive care is doing more harm then good by prescribing drugs to correct numbers rather than find the underlying cause - then the number needing care will rise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    The REAL DIVISION here is not between young / old, it's between the RULING ELITES and THE REST OF THE POPULATION.

    Unfortunately it really does come down to 'us' and 'them', and 'they' are presently trying to turn every definable group in society against each other ... and with today's technology reaching in to individual minds in chairs in front of computers or TVs, they may well win.
    WAKE UP !

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    The real problem is one government after another fleecing the public, lining their own pockets and spending public money. Wake up you clots in office, YOU CAN'T SPEND YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT! Nor can you stimulate the economy with higher taxation. Those in real need should be supported, but more importantly, individuals should be taught money management from an early age.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    This Is England
    Meanwhile, us young'uns are paying for your pensions now whilst you transfer your debts onto us, destroying our own chances of a comfortable old age. Cheers.
    **And who do you think has paid for YOUR parents child allowance, your education, your health care before you contributed a penny? You benefited from the provision funded by the oldies you so despise. Your turn to come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    @ 120. AlErgic
    "Come on no working man in history has ever had a fair chance."

    TOO TRUE !!!
    But too many sheeple believe our society is meritocratic. They can't see that everything is stacked against them and that even if they earn more and possess more than others, they are still part of the 99%.

    It's all about divide and rule, and then exploit...from the cradle to the grave...

    WAKE UP !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    It is estimated by some that tax avoidance on UK trading by multinational companies costs the Exchequer £25bn - enough to adequately fund care and an adequate (not generous) benefit system. So these companies are driving people into poverty and draining their savings. The Government chooses to do nothing about this.


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