The government has selected a sixth authority to trial its social care funding reforms, including the cap on care costs, before their full implementation next year.
Oxfordshire council will join Blackpool, Cheshire East, the London Borough of Newham North Yorkshire and Wolverhampton as trailblazers for the reforms.
The changes, under the Care Act 2014, involve placing an £86,000 cap on people’s liabilities for their personal care, and extending means-tested support to people with eligible assets of up to £100,000, up from £23,250, from October 2023. They will also enable self-funders to have their local authority arrange their placement in a care home, at council rates, though this will be phased in over 18 months, up to April 2025.
All local authorities will be expected to start carrying out early assessments of current self-funders who want to take advantage of the reforms, from April 2023, to avoid excessive demand in October of next year.
However, legislation will enable the trailblazers to start this work earlier.
Concerns over lack of social workers
Government guidance on the reforms states that the trailblazers “will generate valuable evidence and insight that will help government to monitor progress and improve its understanding of the barriers to implementation”, shaping the nationwide rollout.
The lack of social workers and other professionals to carry out the additional assessments, reviews and care planning required under the reforms has emerged as local authorities’ biggest concern.
Sector leaders have said the changes will necessitate about 105,000 additional Care Act needs assessments per year.
However, latest figures show the number of adult social workers employed by councils fell last year, while vacancies and turnover rose.