Social care funding cap could cost London councils £877m

Regional variations will have 'substantial implications' on how councils will be impacted by the introduction of the care costs cap, says London Councils

Changes to adult social care funding contained in the Care Bill could cost London local authorities an additional £877m within six years.

A report by London Councils estimated the figure as a result of councils stepping in when a lifetime limit on care costs of £72,000 is reached, along with a rise in the means testing threshold from £23,250, currently, to £118,000 in April 2016.

The report, published this week, calls for appropriate funding to meet the costs of the proposed changes, due to come into force in April 2016. It also draws attention to the higher cost of residential care in the capital.

London Councils’ research found regional variances will have “substantial implications” on how local authorities will be impacted by the introduction of the cap.

The report found that around 27% of self-funders in London are likely to hit the £72,000 cost cap. In comparison, only 3% in the North East and 15% nationally are likely to hit the cap.

Cllr Ravi Govindia, London Councils’ executive member for adult services, said: “London Councils supports the government’s push for longer, independent and healthier lives. It is reassuring for people who pay for care to have a limit on some of the costs.

“But we are concerned that councils will have to pick up the tab if it goes ahead without first taking into account London’s circumstances, particularly the high cost of residential care.”

As the Care Bill was being discussed in the House of Lords on Tuesday, Unison, the National Pensioners Convention and think tank United For All Ages, sent a ten-point leaflet to each member of the House calling for the cap on social care costs to be scrapped. They are calling for social care to be provided free at the point of use and instead funded through general taxation – along the lines of an NHS-style model of care.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “We are appealing to the Lords to make a stand against the coalition’s plan to cap social care costs. The plans fail to address the key issues facing social care – the chronic underfunding of the system and the damaging impact on quality.

“And despite the government’s claims, it will not stop the elderly from having to sell their homes to pay for their care. We think the cap should be scrapped with a national social care service put in place. It should be free at the point of use, funded through general taxation, similar to the NHS-style model of care.”

Last week’s spending review announced £335m to help councils prepare to deliver the proposed changes. A London Councils spokesperson welcomed this commitment, but said it has comes too late. Boroughs are calling for transitional funding to be made available sooner to help prepare for implementing the changes in April 2016.

In May, the Kings Fund warned that implementing the government’s cap on care costs could leave social workers facing more “confusion, complexity and complaints”, along with “substantial extra work”.

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