Social care  

Dilnot 'very uncomfortable' about govt's social care plans

Dilnot 'very uncomfortable' about govt's social care plans

Sir Andrew Dilnot has told MPs he feels “very uncomfortable” about the government’s latest plans to exclude living costs from the social care cap.

In a Treasury Committee meeting today (November 18), the former director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and author of the report which led to the 2014 Care Act, said the plans were "disappointing".

He said: “Those people with less valuable houses but facing significant care journeys will be much less protected against catastrophic risk and the sale of their house if this amendment is made, than without it.”

Dilnot said under what the government is currently proposing, people with assets under £100,000 would lose around 80 per cent of them. 

The amendment, published yesterday (November 17) by the department of health and social care, proposes to exclude daily living costs from the government’s yet-to-be-implemented £86,000 social care cap.

This means working adults in need of social care will have to pay £200 a week until their assets are eroded far enough to qualify for help.

Asked how many people would still have to sell their houses to pay for care if this amendment is passed, Dilnot told the Treasury Committee: “A very large proportion of the pensioner population needing care will find itself materially less protected by the proposals the government has announced, than they would have been without the amendment that has just been proposed.”

He added the number of pensioners facing this “catastrophic risk” will be “tens of thousands”.

Whilst Dilnot admitted the government’s recent engagement on social care moved the UK, “for the first time”, towards “a national risk pool for social care”, he clarified that how the metering is being done is “less than the best way”.

The plans could also mean “catastrophic costs” for disabled working adults facing significant care journeys, according to The King’s Fund’s director Sally Warren.

She said this demographic now faces a “Catch 22”, because if they do return to the workforce - or enter for the first time - they will likely see all their earnings immediately disappear on care costs.

“[Disabled working adults] will face catastrophic costs over their lifetime,” Warren explained. 

"They get support through the means test, which will become more generous." 

From October 2023 the upper capital limit for local authority means-tested support will rise to £100,000 from the current £23,250 and the lower capital limit will increase to £20,000 from £14,250.

“But because that support won’t count towards the cap, they [disabled people] will find that the cap takes a longer time to reach.”

What that will mean, according to Warren, is until they hit the cap they will lose all of their income down to a minimum income guarantee.

Having frozen it for a number of years, the government is now set to unfreeze the levels of MIG for those receiving care in their own homes. From April 2022, this guarantee will therefore rise in line with inflation.