Who wins and who loses under Dilnot’s social care proposals?


by Guest    
2:42 pm - February 11th 2013

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by Dr Emma Stone

A cap on care costs of £75,000 and a higher means-test threshold of £123,000 from 2017. What will this achieve?

At the moment, society offers little protection to those who face catastrophic costs of care.

Neither politicians nor the public are minded to pay for social care through greatly-increased general taxation which would make social care universally free at the point of access (on a par with the NHS). Yet the costs of social care are rising – both for the state and for individuals who need it.

The combined measures of raising the means-test threshold and setting a cap on the lifetime costs of substantial care, excluding board and lodging costs, at £75k (2017 prices) will give greater protection to the assets of older home-owners who face very high care costs and increase clarity and certainty about what they will have to pay for their own care.

Although many people will be in for a shock if they think the cap is equivalent to the total they will spend on care or support. It isn’t.

The Government also hopes – and needs - the cap to encourage those of us who can to start saving for potential care costs in later life, as we would for a pension. Hence the reference to the financial services industry.

Social care funding is not only about old age – it is about adults of all ages.

The proposals should give some peace of mind to some parents of disabled children who, on transition to adulthood, will have their eligible care costs paid for by the state.

But – and it is a big but – what is not yet clear, and will hopefully be part of the announcement, is how this will affect working-age adults who become disabled during adulthood. Given what we know about the links between disability, impairment, extra living costs, decreased earnings and savings potential, and unequal access to financial products – this is a key issue.

The recent report on The Other Care Crisis (by five leading charities representing disabled people) highlighted this well.

What we also urgently need to know is what the prospects are for a better settlement for local governments so they can fund adequate levels of social care – including, and most significantly, investing in prevention, early intervention and support for those whose needs fall short of the ever-increasing thresholds for eligibility for care and support.

When JRF responded to the Dilnot proposals back in 2011 – we said then, and we still say now, that a sustainable system of funding social care will not come about if there is insufficient encouragement to invest in prevention and ‘that bit of help’.

That message is everywhere in the draft social care bill – but nowhere in the proposals mentioned in the media yesterday.

So the cap and the threshold are welcome measures; and a welcome sign that the government is taking responsibility for addressing care funding. This is a start.

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Cross-posted from the Joseph Rownstree Foundation

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Reader comments


There is a little uncertainty on the very first paragraph here. Dilnot has interpreted it as starting at £75k from 2017, so being worth £61k in todays money. Not the reverse situation you describe. Would be good to get clarification on which it is.

It’s very noticeable that Jeremy Hunt has been pushing the message that he expects people to ‘do the right thing’ and invest in care cost insurance products (and I’ve no doubt that the insurance industry will be making generous donations to Tory Central Office to thank him), but for those off us at ground zero of these policies, the ability to ‘do the right thing’ is less apparent. The media and government focus tends to be on care of the elderly, courting the grey vote, but disability care also falls under the same proposals, and disability and insurance tend to mix like oil and water.

It’s no secret that insurers tend to charge disabled people more, and for more limited coverage, but for care cost policies disabled people will be facing a triple whammy: firstly we will be charged more for the policies due to our disability; secondly we will, on the whole, be less able to pay for them, because our disabilities may make it difficult for us to work, because if we can work we are subject to extensive discrimination in trying to enter work, and because we have historically been failed by the education system; and finally, when the first two reasons result in us not being able to support the insurer’s profit margins, we will be condemned for being ‘feckless’ and for failing to ‘do the right thing’. Screwed if we do, damned if we don’t.

I’m able bodied, self-employed and getting on a bit. I’m paying all I can into a pension. I can’t see how I could pay a social care policy. I doubt I’m unusual.

Yet again the limited progress mostly benefits the better off.

Free personal care for the elderly is like abolition of hospital car-parking charges, and abolition of undergraduate fees.

Any preferential spending in Scotland must be extended to the whole United Kingdom. Paid for by a reduction in the block grant to the Scottish devolved body.

That body has its own revenue-raising powers with which to make up the shortfall. Everyone’s a winner.

Easy.

Ed Miliband, over to you.

5. Churm Rincewind

“The combined measures…will give greater protection to the assets of older home-owners.”

Well this is a great relief. We wouldn’t want people who have saved against their old age by investing in property to have to use their savings in old age. Apart from anything else they may have offspring who look forward to inheriting the family home.

Unfortunately I don’t have the time right now to go into all this in detail, but if anyone’s interested they can find the full argument in the Daily Mail.


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