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22nd May 2013

Plans to cap care costs could become irrelevant, think-tank warns

Government plans to introduce a cap on care costs in England, outlined in the Care Bill which had its second reading in on May 21, could become irrelevant a think-tank has warned.

The report by the King's Fund - Paying for Care: Beyond Dilnot - found that the number of people receiving help with care has dropped as councils are hit by cuts. The report argues that criteria for receiving support have now become so tight that a long-awaited cap on care costs could be irrelevant because only a minor would ever qualify for support.

It found:

  • According to an analysis of Government figures the number of people over 65 receiving publicly funded in England care fell below the one million mark to 989,905 last year - down from 1.2 million four years earlier
  • Over the same period the number of older people has grown sharply as a result of the ageing population - the number of over-85s are up by more than 20 per cent
  • Figures from councils show that while they have largely preserved their overall care budgets they have been forced to tighten up their criteria [for support with care costs] - meaning that only those assessed as having the most serious needs get any help

Paying for care: Beyond Dilnot - call for new social care 'road-map'

The King's Fund report welcomed the UK Government reforms being implemented in the wake of the landmark recommendations by the 2011 Dilnot Commission aimed at preventing people being forced to sell their homes.

But it called for a re-focusing of the debate and a new 'road-map' for social care reform including:

  • The government should ensure proper preparation and planning for implementing the Dilnot proposals, to establish a new framework for planning and cost-sharing.
  • The 2015/16 Spending Review should be used to move towards a single strategic budget settlement for the NHS and adult social care, and closer alignment of local authority and clinical commissioning group (CCG) budgets around individual needs.
  • Health and wellbeing boards have a crucial leadership role to play in ensuring care reform is part of a wider transformation of local health and care services.
  • There should be a fresh debate about the options for funding the quantity and quality of care needed in future, and how to overcome dividing lines between the ways health and social care are paid for.

Find out more on this story

Read the King's Fund report: Paying for care: Beyond Dilnot

Read the Daily Telegraph's story: Care cap becoming 'irrelevant'


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