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MPs back govt amendment to social care cap

MPs back govt amendment to social care cap

MPs have voted in favour of a government proposed amendment to its £86,000 social care cap, which would see both the financial help people get from local authorities to cover their care and their living costs excluded from the cap.

The vote comes despite warnings from the industry to rethink the change, which many have said will inevitably hit the poorest and disabled the hardest.

With a majority of just 26 votes, 272 MPs voted for the Health and Care Bill amendment late last night (November 22) in the House of Commons, whilst 246 MPs voted against the change.

Some 19 Conservative MPs rebelled, including Tatton’s Esther McVey, Bury South’s Christian Wakeford, and Workington’s Mark Jenkinson.

The bill change, referred to as Clause 49, has moved to a Second Reading which will see MPs debate the main principles of the bill in the coming weeks.

Some 68 Tory MPs abstained from the vote on Clause 49. Former cabinet minister Damian Green, who abstained, told BBC Newsnight: “The party wants to see a proper, fair solution to social care that is fair around the country and in all areas of the country. And to put it as politely as I can, it’s not yet clear that this solution achieves that.”

The amendment means savers entitled to means-tested government support through their local authority for care won’t see this count towards the cap, alongside living costs.

The amendment follows a government promise that from October 2023 no-one with assets under £100,000 would pay more than £86,000 for care across their lifetime.

Sir Andrew Dilnot told MPs in a Treasury Committee meeting last week he felt “very uncomfortable” about the government’s latest plans to exclude living costs and means-tested support from the cap.

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 proposing, people with assets under £100,000 would lose around 80 per cent of them. 

Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, believes there is further debate to be had over the level of the £86,000 cap, given “the relatively low savings many people have and the extremely limited set of social care products available in the UK”.

He said: “When the idea of a cost cap was first proposed by Dilnot a decade ago, the hope was that insurance products would be developed to cater for the market. 

“However, at this stage it remains unclear whether new products will be delivered or, crucially, whether people will buy them.”

Insurance experts have previously told FTAdviser they doubt there will be a surge in social care-related products, despite the government saying it wants to work with insurers to develop such products as part of its social care reforms.