“The government’s social care green paper is now badly overdue and today’s scathing remarks from the House of Lords illustrate the price we are paying for procrastination.
“Many people assume that long-term social care, like health care, is free at the point of need. That is not the case, with social care devolved to local authorities who offer various levels of cover.
“Under the existing system, individuals must meet the cost of their own care, with no ceiling on the level of cost they may incur. The savings threshold for local authority funding has come under criticism since it means some people with significant care needs could see almost all their lifetime savings lost to care costs. In addition, property may or may not be included in the means test depending on numerous factors so people could need to sell their home to fund care and at the very least face wading through different rules to find out.
“The House of Lords report published today suggests that the cost of providing free personal care – washing, dressing and cooking – and free care in the home would cost just £2bn more per year than the government’s existing ‘cap and floor’ proposals, which would raise the bar on the savings threshold for local authority funding and place an overall cap on the personal liability. That additional £2bn equates to half a percent increase in income tax, based on previous estimates.
“We must have clarity on this issue as a matter of absolute urgency. There are a number of options on the table but without certainty about which will be adopted, people cannot plan and good quality insurance products to cover the cost of care will not flourish.
“Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, today alluded to closer integration between health and social care services. But it still remains unclear to what extent that integration will occur and how it will affect funding. He also cited the need for cross-party collaboration on this critical issue and that is an eminently sensible point of view, but we now need action, not words.
“We urge the government to stop posturing on this and at least get on with publishing the green paper so that it can then progress to a meaningful consideration of policy. That paper was only ever intended to be a first step before a concrete white paper, followed eventually by legislation.”