Did the government meet its pledge to cap the cost of social care?

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Ahead of the general election on 8 June, we examine whether the government met their 2015 pledges on health and social care.

What did the Conservative party pledge in 2015?

The 2015 Conservative Party manifesto pledged to ‘cap charges for residential social care from April 2016… so no one has to sell their home’. The commitment – to limit an individual’s lifetime liability for care costs to £72,000 – would have protected people from the catastrophic costs of long stays in residential care. It followed the report of the Dilnot Commission in 2011, which had recommended a cap of £35,000, and had been enshrined in the Care Act 2014.

What progress has been made?

In July 2015, just two months after the general election, the government announced that the implementation of the cap on care costs would be delayed until April 2020. Ministers argued that the delay was necessary due to the costs of implementing the policy (estimated to be £6 billion over five years) at a time when local government was under significant financial pressure.

In December 2016, the Prime Minister pledged to seek a ‘long-term solution’ to the challenge of funding social care for older people. This was followed by an announcement in the 2017 Spring Budget that the government would publish a Green Paper ‘to put the system on a more secure and sustainable long-term footing’.

The King’s Fund view

By delaying introduction of the cap on social care costs from 2016 until 2020, the government broke its manifesto commitment. With the uncertainties of a general election and the government committed to going back to the drawing board by publishing a Green Paper, it is now unclear whether the cap will ever be implemented. Putting social care on a secure and sustainable footing should be a priority for the next government.