The Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Policy Natasha Curry commented last week ahead of the vote to the amendment to the Care Act 2014
“The proposed amendment to the Care Act would be a significant change to the way the cap on social care costs would work. Under these new proposals, fewer people will be protected from catastrophic costs than would have been the case under the original proposals.”
“It is very disappointing that the government has not set out its assessment of the impact of these changes. Without it we cannot work out exactly how many people will be protected from needing to sell their homes to pay for care costs. Crucially, these changes as they stand offer far less protection to those with lower levels of wealth than their wealthier counterparts.”
“But ultimately, these tweaks do nothing to address the burning issues of a social care system already deep in crisis. A cap may help to put a limit on some people's costs but it does not in itself inject more money into the system, improve care or extend access to care, or address the dangerous gaps in the social care workforce. It must sit alongside other reforms to this broken system.”
“The social care reform we desperately need to see must work for everyone - no matter our wealth, income, age, condition, or where we live. In the here and now, the government must act quickly to tackle severe immediate challenges ahead of the winter. We then need to see a long-term, comprehensive plan based on clear principles to deliver lasting change and build a fair, clear and sustainable care system. We still appear to be a long way from that.”
The Rural Services Network recently released a report along with the County Councils Network The State of Care in County and Rural Areas, which provides an overview of the challenges in delivering adult social care in rural and county areas, and provided the first detailed analysis of the impact of the government’s social care reforms – recently announced– for councils.
Analysing data for 40 of the largest county and unitary authorities’ areas in England, the report finds:
- Last year, 58% - 545,000 - of people who made a request to their local county authority were told they were ineligible for care, as councils have tightened their eligibility over the years owning to financial pressures. This figure has remained stagnant since 2017.
- Councils support a cap on care as they will ensure more people do not pay catastrophic care costs, but the proposals announced will not improve eligibility for the thousands currently below the criteria to access care services. Unless the government makes short-term social care funding available to councils in the Spending Review, further reductions, council tax rises and a tightening of eligibility in those services will be required in the lead-up to the reforms being introduced.
- The government’s commitment to allow private fee payers – self funders – to access council contacts and ensure greater fairness in care fees paid between private and state fees is well intentioned but will lead to a significant increase in demand for council arranged care. It could destabilise county care markets by making some providers economically unviable or result in unaffordable additional costs for councils.
- This is because self-funders currently pay 40% on average more than councils for the same standard of care owing to local authorities’ financial pressures: cross subsidising the market. It is estimated there is a fee gap of £761m in county and rural areas: which is the estimated annual cost of bringing local authority fees closer to self-funder rates. Councils are concerned that the government has underestimated the costs of bringing these fees more equal, and it is uncertain whether the £5.4bn committed for all the reforms and to move towards paying ‘a fairer price for care’ will be enough. Unless government fully-funds this commitment, councils will face extra commissioning costs and more providers could become economically unviable.
- Between 2018 to 2021, 227 care homes closed in county and rural areas, the report reveals. If more providers go out of businesses, there will be less choice for those requiring residential care.
- The new Social Care and Health Levy could raise £12bn a year, but outside of 20% of this fund set aside for social care reform, there is no commitments on how these resources will be distributed between the two health systems. Therefore, in the future, the government should enshrine in law that beyond 2025, most of this income is earmarked for social care.
Read more of this report at this link:
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