Thank you for contacting me about the Government's social care reform plans.
Over the next three years, £1.7 billion will be spent to improve the lives of those who receive care, as well as their families and carers. This includes £500 million investment in the social care workforce, a £300 million Housing Transformation Fund, to help local authorities increase the range and amount of new supported housing and £150 million to drive new technology and digitisation across social care.
The white paper is part of wider social care plans, backed by £5.4 billion, which for the first time provides a limit to the cost of care for everyone in the adult social care system, and significantly increases state support.
From October 2023, no eligible person starting adult social care will have to pay more than £86,000 for personal care over their lifetime. The reformed means test, which is the best way to help make care affordable, will increase the threshold above which people must meet the full cost of their care to £100,000. This is more than four times the current limit of £23,250, and the number of people receiving state support in the social care system will increase from around half to two thirds.
The level at which the state will cover a person’s care costs will be raised from £14,250 to £20,000. Anyone with assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will contribute to the cost of their care but will receive means-tested state support, an upper limit over four times higher than the current one.
While I understand that the £86,000 cap does not apply to the cost of accommodation and food, known as daily living costs, it will go a long way in helping with the general cost of care for those both in residential homes and in other care settings. Daily living costs are a notional amount to reflect that a proportion of residential care fees are not directly linked to personal care, like rent, food and utility bills and would have had to be paid wherever someone lives. For simplicity, daily living costs will be set at a national, notional amount of £200 per week.
I know that some people face real financial pressures each week or month after paying for their care. It is therefore welcome that, to allow people receiving means-tested support to keep more of their own income, the Government will unfreeze the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) for those receiving care in their own homes. From April 2022 this will rise in line with inflation.
I am glad that the Government's plan for health and social care will tackle persistent unfairness in the social care system. Under the current system, people who fund their own care often pay more than people who are funded through their local authority for equivalent care. It is therefore encouraging that the Government will ensure that self-funders are able to ask their local authority to arrange their care for them so that they can find better value care. I welcome that this has been reiterated in the Government's Adult Social Care Reform White Paper and the Government, with the support of local authorities, care providers and the wider sector, will aim to ensure that self-funders can access the same rates for care costs in care homes that local authorities pay.
The new social care reforms are clear, fair and reduce complexity. Only the amount that an individual contributes towards their personal care will count towards the cap, and a much more generous means test will better support those with lower levels of assets. Nobody will have to sell their home to pay for their care in their lifetime. People are able to take out a Deferred Payment Agreement so that payments can be deducted from their estate after they die. And if someone or their spouse lives in their home, they will not be forced to sell it to pay for care.
I believe it is important for MPs and the public to be able to understand the impact of the charging reforms. During the debate on the Health and Care Bill in the House of Commons Chamber, minister Ed Argar suggested an impact assessment should be available before the legislation completes its passage through both Houses and so I look forward to seeing this assessment in due course. I understand this will include comments on the impact on different regions.
This is an important step on the journey to reform social care in this country and giving more people the dignified care that we all want for our loved ones. As your MP, I can assure you that I will be engaged in all discussions about these reforms and continue to represent the views of constituents.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP
[Optional: The Government has said that they will consult on the reforms to charges and I would encourage you to take part in this to ensure your views are heard.