MPs in Yorkshire, the Midlands and North East should vote down the government’s social care cap amendment to save their poorer constituents from ‘crippling care costs’, two leading health charities today warn.
The Health and Care Bill, set to reach final stages in the House of Commons on Monday 25 April, includes an amendment from government that would mean its social care reforms would offer less protection to poorer people. The Health Foundation and the King’s Fund warn that people in Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North East of England – including in so called ‘Red Wall’ Conservative constituencies historically held by Labour where average wealth tends to be lower – would see the biggest erosion of their protection against high care costs, as a result of the amendment.
Last year, the government proposed a cap of £86,000 on the lifetime care costs that people face. But it also proposed amending the 2014 Care Act so that local authority support that people receive to help them meet their care costs would no longer count towards the cap. This is a departure from the Dilnot Commission’s proposals, which significantly reduces the benefits of the reforms for people with lower levels of wealth. Those with housing wealth of more than £186,000 are unaffected.
The change means that, irrespective of wealth and assets, everyone is exposed to the same costs. £86k may be affordable for certain people, but it is a life changing amount for people with low to moderate assets and will still leave them with no choice but to sell their home to pay for their care.
A joint Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Health Foundation report, funded by the Health Foundation, recently assessed the impact of the government’s amendment. It compared the financial effect of the change for people in different regions of the country. For example, for people spending ten years in residential care it found that:
- People in North East would spend an extra 6% of their assets on care, on average, as a result of the amendment. This is equivalent to an average increase in contribution of £5,700.
- In Yorkshire and Humber people would spend an extra 5% of their assets, equivalent to £5,300.
- In the Midlands it would see an increase in payments worth 4% of assets, equivalent to £4,600.
- These increases compare to 2% in the South East and 1% in London, equivalent to £3,800 and £2,800 respectively.
Charles Tallack, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said:
‘The government’s amendment represents a significant watering down of the pledge to protect people from catastrophic care costs.
‘At a time when the country is facing the biggest hit to household finances since the 1950s, government should be looking to increase financial protection for poorer households.
‘Yet this measure will disproportionally affect people with lower wealth and in poorer areas of the country. This is not levelling up: it’s unfair and a backwards step.’
Sally Warren, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said:
‘The government’s change to the cap on social care costs is expected to save the Treasury money, but that saving comes at the expense of poorer people with lower levels of wealth and assets.
‘Many of those people will be wondering why the Prime Minister’s pledge that no one will have to sell their home to pay for their care no longer applies to them, whilst wealthier people are still protected from catastrophic care costs.’