Government plans to introduce a £72,000 cap, on the amount self-funders would have to contribute to their long-term residential care costs, have been postponed until April 2020 due to concerns over a growing funding gap in adult social care and financial pressures on local councils. The cap was one of the key measures included in the coalition’s Care Act due to be introduced from April 2016.
Two other key reforms that have also been postponed until April 2020 are:
- The duty on councils to meet the eligible needs of self-funders in care homes at their request and;
- The more generous means test for residential care which was due to increase from £23,500 to £118,000 from April 2016.
The move follows calls from the Local Government Association – an organisation that represents Councils in England and Wales – to delay the reforms and instead put the cash that would have been used to implement them into the social care system itself which is already critically under-funded.
The decision has been generally welcomed by charities in the social care sector, supporting the notion that developing a sustainable care system should be the priority.
The Care Act 2014 received Royal Assent in May 2014 and is being implemented in stages. Part 1 of the Act, which saw the introduction of a universal deferred payment arrangement and a national minimum eligibility threshold, took effect in April 2015; while the cap on care costs and an increased higher capital limit were due to be introduced under Part 2 of the Act in April 2016.
The delay of the phase 2 reforms until 2020 mean that for the time being at least immediate care annuities and pension will continue to fulfil a critical need for those who (or have elderly relatives who) might need care.
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