Sunak has been given plenty of excuses for at least delaying these plans, a version of which was originally due to be implemented in 2016. There is a financial black hole of around £40 billion to fill and all expenditure is under scrutiny. In addition, local authorities have called for delay to the reforms to allow them more time to prepare, and many in the sector are arguing for money instead to go into plugging holes – particularly in the workforce – in the wider social care system.
The Prime Minister should, however, press on. Primarily because it is the right thing to do: a situation in which 1 in 7 people faces ‘catastrophic’ social care costs of more than £100,000 is morally unacceptable.
But if that is not sufficient argument, there are other, more pragmatic reasons why he should go ahead.
First, the goal of the proposals – preventing people having to sell their homes to pay for care – was a promise in the Conservative party manifesto, to which the Prime Minister has just re-committed. He himself said when the reforms were first announced that the cap was now a ‘permanent feature’ of the health and care system.
Second, the reform is popular: more than half of people support the principle of an £86,000 cap. From the Prime Minister’s perspective, a popular manifesto commitment that has been met is surely worth something at the next election.
Finally, introducing it as planned is also critical to give certainty to people who are planning for their older age. That’s vital not just for the peace-of-mind benefits that it brings but also because consumer confidence is key to insurance companies developing products that could help people cover the £86,000 they will need to fund before the cap kicks in – which the Prime Minister was reported to want. Understandably, given the stop-start nature of social care reform, nearly half of people say they will put off planning for residential care until the new plans are actually introduced.
All these arguments make a compelling case for sticking with plans to introduce a cap. It is not even that expensive: because it takes time for people to reach the cap, the costs to HM Treasury are relatively low at first, not reaching £2 billion until 2026/27 by which time – you would hope – public finances will be in a stronger position.
It is true that there are other, immediate funding issues facing adult social care that need to be met and that these bring with them other, substantial costs. Local authorities need significant additional funding to meet the demand they face for adult social care and also to cover the increasing cost of that care as inflation rockets. There is also a full-on crisis in the social care workforce, with vacancies at an all-time high as providers struggle to compete with other sectors to recruit staff. Both these issues should be towards the top of the pile of issues facing the government. But it is naïve to think that delaying or abandoning the cap will automatically mean the funding tap is turned on for social care in other areas. That has not been the case in the past, even though it was often cited as the reason for initially delaying the cap reforms in 2015.
The cap on costs and the reform of the means test are the first instalment of a reform of social care that has been needed for decades. Pressing ahead with them makes sense for social care, for the people who draw on it – and for the Prime Minister.
I think they should of stuck to their promise of this year the cap of 86000
My mums in care. She has paid 160000 of her savings. 80000 was my dads but he had his money in my mums account because the tax was better years ago in a woman’s tax and they took all his money too. Mum is local authority funded now. My dad can’t afford to move as he has a little place and two flights of stairs at the age of 88 to contend with. If he sells his maisonette he couldn’t afford anything else especially if he went into warden care with their high service charges and if he had to pay mums share of flat to her and have to start all that re assessment again . I’m in another country or he could of lived with me. My mum has Alzheimer’s and been in a home for 3 years. He’s dedicated to her visiting her 4 times a week. They have been together since they were 16.
Alzheimer’s is a desease it may not be as bad as cancer but that is funded.
England is letting the British elders down. They saw the war and now they still have to worry how their lives will end it’s awful. The prime minister should give the elderly a break the decision to prolong this is disgusting