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Government changes to paying for social care

In May 2012, the government published a White Paper which proposed changes to the way social care is organised and paid for. We look at whether this could this affect your decisions about what kind of care to choose and how to pay for it...

The background

David CameronA commission set up by the government to look into care - the Dilnot Commission - reported in 2011.

Currently, one in four people paying for their own care spends their entire savings on it. Anyone with assets (including a home) of £23,250 or more has to pay for their own care.

The Dilnot Commission's report recommended:

  • A cap on the total amount anyone would have to pay for care - Dilnot suggested £35,000.
  • People should only have to start paying for their own care if they have assets of more than £100,000 (rather than £23,250 now).

The government's response - the money

The government accepted the following principles:

  • A cap on total personal spending. But the White Paper didn't put a figure on what this should be (though where Dilnot had mentioned £35,000, the government talked about £75,000).
  • A higher threshold for starting to pay your own costs - but again, no decision was made on how much this should rise above the current £23,250.
  • No one should have to sell their house in their lifetime to pay for care

So the government has accepted the Dilnot proposals in principle, but has not solved the problem of how to fund the increased costs to the state, or the loans government would have to make to local authorities to cover people not selling their homes. Effectively, these decisions were postponed.

The aim is that there will be reforms to the way we pay for care, but they are clearly some way off.

The government's response - improving care

Other things you might like

The government's proposals on care issues aside from money were published at the same time in a Draft Bill, which was generally well-received. 

The most important step is a proposal to end to the postcode lottery in care. Currently, some local authorities offer support to people with moderate needs, while others will only help those whose needs are severe. The government will now set a national minimum standard for entitlement to care.

People who move while they are receiving care will find it easier to transfer their services.

The government is going to set up a new national information website.

Local authorities will be funded to put information about their local care services online.

Carers will be entitled to support.

The aim is to put more emphasis on avoiding residential care, with adpatations to allow people to stay in their own homes. 

There will be legislation to safeguard adults at risk of abuse and more emphasis on dignity in care.