One of the key points announced in the Chancellor’s budget today was that £4.8 billion would be spent on local government. One would hope that this would go some way towards alleviating the extreme pressure which falls on the social care sector at this time. The Health Secretary subsequently thanked the Chancellor via social media for backing plans “to fix social care” - an ambitious statement.
The announcement follows the Government’s earlier proposals put forward in September this year to reform the way in which individuals pay for social care in this country, the most notable of which was the introduction of a Health and Social Care Levy. The proposals in full were set out in their policy paper “Build Back Better: Our plan for health and social care”. Of course social care has been and is beset by huge challenges, including poor pay, significant vacancies and difficulty retaining workers. Individuals often face significant delays in having their care needs assessed and then met. The cost of care is vast and, as widely publicised, it can sometimes be necessary for a person’s home to be sold to fund the cost of their care.
In September the Government shared some of their proposed reforms to take effect in October 2023; for example placing a cap of £86,000 on what any one individual should personally pay towards the cost of their care during their lifetime (no cap being in existence at the moment) and bringing forward the point at which someone can request financial support for the cost of their care from the local authority. At the moment, someone’s available capital must be at or below £23,250 before this assistance can ordinarily be sought, however it is suggested that this capital threshold be increased to £100,000. There are reservations about how this “care cap” will be calculated and what will be counted towards the cap. For example daily living costs (“hotel costs”) associated with a care home placement are not expected to count.
It remains to be seen whether the reality of the reforms, and the way in which funding will be made available, will match the hope and expectation contained in the government’s initial plans, for those in need of care and support.