Fury over social care betrayal: Care tsar Andrew Dilnot slams Boris Johnson for watering down cap on costs and warns poorer pensioners in north of England will be hardest hit – but PM insists his reforms will deliver ‘massive improvement for whole country’
- Government slipped out significant change to social care reforms yesterday
- Means the cap on social care costs will be less generous than previously thought
- Andrew Dilnot said it means ‘less well-off will not gain any benefit from the cap’
- Mr Dilnot estimated 40 per cent of elderly needing social care will see no benefit
- He also warned that the changes will hit pensioners in north of England hardest
Boris Johnson’s decision to water down his new cap on social care costs has been slammed by the original architect of a proposed major overhaul of the care sector.
The Government yesterday slipped out small-print relating to its social care reforms which means that means-tested support from local authorities for the less well-off will no longer count towards the £86,000 cap.
That means they will have to spend more of their own money on care before they reach the lifetime limit.
Andrew Dilnot, who conducted a major review a decade ago on how to improve the care sector, had rejected such an approach as unfair and today he said he was ‘very disappointed’.
Mr Dilnot said the change means the ‘less well-off will not gain any benefit from the cap’, claiming the shift ‘finds savings exclusively from the less well-off group’.
He estimated that 40 per cent of the elderly who have care needs will now get no benefit from the cap.
He also warned pensioners in the north of England will be hardest hit because of lower house prices in the region.
Mr Johnson rejected Mr Dilnot’s criticism and said the new social care system will deliver a ‘massive improvement for everybody in the whole country’.
Andrew Dilnot, the original architect of the cap on social care costs said he was ‘very disappointed’ by the Government’s decision to water down its proposals
Boris Johnson rejected Mr Dilnot’s criticism and said the new social care system will deliver a ‘massive improvement for everybody in the whole country’
It is thought the decision to make the cap less generous will likely save the Treasury £500million.
The ‘further details’ of the long-delayed shake-up of social care were published yesterday, more than two months after the PM announced that National Insurance would rise to pay for the £5.4billion reforms.
It had been hoped that the imposition of a cap on lifetime care costs would spare many pensioners the prospect of having to sell their homes to pay for residential care.
But the policy paper revealed that it is less likely to benefit those who currently get free support from the State under a means test, because that contribution will not be included in deciding when they have reached the cap.
So a poor pensioner receiving state support would have to spend £86,000 of their own money on extra care before they were deemed to have hit the limit.
The Government said the move is needed to ensure ‘people do not reach the cap at an artificially faster rate than what they contribute’.
It said a new ‘much more generous means test’ – which increases to £100,000 from £23,250 the amount elderly people can hold in assets before they have to pay for all their care themselves – ‘is the main means of helping people with lower levels of assets’.
Mr Dilnot told the Treasury Select Committee that he was ‘very disappointed’ the Government had adopted the approach as he warned the ‘big change’ will hit less well-off pensioners.
He said: ‘Essentially what this change does is for those who have long care journeys for significant care needs, it means that the less well-off will not gain any benefit from the cap.
‘The only change as a result of all of these reforms will be that instead of running your assets down to your last £14,250 you have run your assets down to your last £20,000.
‘The people who are most harshly affected by this change will be people with assets of exactly £106,000 – that is the £86,000 of the cap plus £20,000 that is protected by the means tested system.
‘But everybody with assets of less than £186,000 would do less well under what the Government is proposing than the proposals that we made.’
He added: ‘That’s a big change that was announced yesterday and I think it is disappointing. It finds savings exclusively from the less well-off group.’
Mr Dilnot said ‘people who are unaffected by this change are everybody with wealth of more than £186,000’ but for those people with assets of £106,000 or less ‘this is almost exactly the same as the current system’.
As a result, he estimated that approximately 40 per cent of pensioners who need care are unlikely to be better off under the reforms.
Mr Dilnot explained: ‘About 60 per cent of older people who end up needing social care have assets of less than £186,000 and probably about 30 or 40 per cent have assets of less than £106,000.
The Government yesterday slipped out small-print relating to its social care reforms which mean that means-tested support from local authorities for the less well-off will no longer count towards the £86,000 cap
‘And of course there is a geographical distribution of this, so on the whole this will tend to hit less well-off people, obviously, harder.
‘It will tend to hit people in regions of the country with lower house prices harder than it does those in regions with higher house prices.
‘So there is a sort of north/south axis to this that people living in northern and other less high house price areas are likely to be hit harder than this on average.’
The unexpected change is expected to be voted on by MPs next week, with Mr Johnson likely to face a Tory backlash.
Mr Johnson rejected Mr Dilnot’s criticism, telling broadcasters: ‘No, this is a massive improvement for everybody in the whole country because what we are saying is for the first time in history we are stopping people having to pay unlimited quantities for their care if they suffer from dementia rather than cancer, the unfairness is that if they get Alzheimer’s rather than cancer, the unfairness is they can see all their savings eaten up.
‘So we are restricting the amount that you can possibly pay to a fixed limit when the State comes in and helps you and we come in and help you as soon as you have assets of £100,000 or less… that has never been done before.’
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