By Mithran Samuel & Luke Stevenson
A re-elected Conservative government would make home care users contribute to their care out of the value of their homes and ditch plans to cap people’s care liabilities.
The proposed overhaul of care funding was unveiled in the party’s manifesto, published today, which also included plans to fund schemes to recruit older professionals into social work.
Under the care funding plans, people receiving care in the home would have their housing wealth taken into account as part of their assets when calculating care charges in the same way as care home residents currently do.
Secondly, people in both settings will only have to contribute to care costs from their capital above a floor of £100,000. The manifesto said that this would ensure that, “no matter how large the cost of care turns out to be, people will always retain at least £100,000 of their savings and assets, including value in the family home”. As now, people’s income would also be taken into account when calculating care charges in both settings.
Currently, people with assets less than £14,250 (including their home for those in residential care) do not contribute from their capital, while those with assets above £23,250 are not entitled to local authority funding. Those with assets between £14,250 and £23,250 make some contribution from their capital. Under the Tory’s plans, it is not clear whether the £100,000 would replace the lower capital limit (£14,250), the upper capital limit (£23,250) or operate as a single capital limit below which no contributions from a person’s capital is sought, as happens in Wales.
The third plank of the reforms is that deferred payment agreements, which allow care home residents to defer the costs of their care during their lifetime, will be extended to people receiving care at home.
The proposals mark a significant shift on the party’s previous plans to implement a £72,000 cap on people’s liabilities for care, which is enshrined in the Care Act 2014 and was due for implementation in 2020. This policy was based on the 2011 report of the Dilnot Commission and was designed to insure people against catastrophic care costs. However, the manifesto said this would have “mostly benefitted a small number of wealthier people”.
The Dilnot policy would have required local authorities to carry out many thousand additional assessments each year, as people who currently self-fund their care would have had to have their needs assessed and reviewed each year to take advantage of the cap. On the face of it, the new policy would not require so many additional assessments, though it is likely that many people who currently self-fund their care in a care home would become entitled to local authority funding in future.
The Conservatives also promised extra funding for adult social care and health by means-testing winter fuel payments for pensioners, but it is unclear how much this would raise.
Schemes to get graduates into social work – like Frontline and Think Ahead – would continue to get funding under a Conservative government, but the party would also expand this idea to older professionals.
“We will provide seed funding for similar schemes to recruit older professionals from other sectors, including those returning to the workplace having care for children and relatives and those approaching retirement,” the manifesto pledged.
The Conservatives pledged to introduce a new Mental Health Bill to replace the 1983 Act, and a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, which would include a statutory definition of domestic violence and abuse and create an aggravated offence of domestic abuse if behaviour is directed at a child.
A green paper would be published on young people’s mental health before the end of this year, the manifesto said, and the party pledged to reform child and adolescent mental health services. It also said it would recruit up to 10,000 extra mental health professionals, though it did not specify in which disciplines.
It also reaffirmed support for removing child protection services from failing authorities and placing them into trusts, and said the party would review current support for children in need “to understand why their outcomes are so poor”.
It added that it would establish in law “freedom for employees to mutualise, where appropriate, within the public sector”.