Ministers ‘considered’ a cap on care costs prior to pandemic

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Government ministers were considering a personal cap on social care costs in England prior to the coronavirus outbreak, a senior figure has said.

The idea was raised during talks with Sir Andrew Dilnot, who was asked to lead a cross-party commission on Funding for Care and Support in 2010, in January and February, reports the BBC.

A specific social care tax was among options discussed to cover the costs of social care, a senior figure involved in the talks said, and there has been a 90% agreement on revisiting Sir Andrew’s model.

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The Dilnot commission recommended a partnership model with a much more generous means test and a lifetime ‘cap’ of between £25,000 and £50,000 on social care costs to ensure the state steps in where people face catastrophic costs that cannot be planned for.

The plans received royal assent in 2015, but a lack of political support from the then Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer following the general election led to further delays. 

Then, in 2017, Theresa May argued that a cap on care costs was no longer needed. Find out more here.

Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, said the news that the plans may be revisited is “encouraging”.

“Because of the very significant costs involved, we believe any fair and sustainable system must include some sharing of costs between the state and those individuals in need of care, depending on their wealth. But it’s grossly unfair that some individuals needing longer term care can see their life savings wiped out because of catastrophic care costs,” he said.

“This is why it’s vital that any new system includes a cap on the lifetime care costs anyone faces, which will also allow people to plan ahead to pay their share while protecting inheritance aspirations. It’s therefore encouraging that reports suggest a system close to what was proposed nearly a decade ago by the Dilnot Commission is back under consideration. Ministers will face a difficult decision about what level to set any cap on social costs at, but this can’t be left any longer.”

Independent Age has previously warned that a cap on care costs would represent poor value for the taxpayer and advocated free personal care as a more effective alternative.

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Sarah Clarke

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