The Government announced that instead of introducing the second phase of the Act next April it will postpone it until 2020.
The decision was made after the Local Government Association (LGA), a body that represents local councils, wrote to the Department of Health about their concerns to the funding pressures already on social care provision without the extra costs the changes would have meant during a time of budget and spending review.
Among the changes that are now postponed are:
- An increase in the level of personal assets a person can have before they stop being eligible for state help with residential care costs. It was due to rise from the current £23,250 limit to £118,000.
- A cap on the costs of residential care to £72,000 for the over 65s and younger adults with disabilities, to prevent people from huge costs and having to sell their family homes.
A carer said: “This is yet another kick in the teeth for carers and will cause further unnecessary stress.”
Other carers, who thought they may have to pay costs in the future, expressed their concern about the financial burden the delay would mean to them and their families. They said the personal assets could have been raised in stages – like the minimum wage and income tax allowance increases.
Michèle Stokes, our Chief Executive, said: “We agree that top priority should be given to address the underfunding in social care and provide a sustainable social care system. However, as a charity supporting unpaid carers, Carers in Hertfordshire understands how costly caring can be, whether through the loss of the carers’ income or fees for care to enable them to continue working. We understand the delay will mean carers will experience continuing financial pressures. In the meantime, we can offer advice and support to unpaid carers as well as opportunities to meet other carers or develop their skills.”
She continued: “The reality is that the second phase could be delayed even further than 2020 given that it comes only a few weeks before the next General Election.”
In its letter to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, in July the LGA said the funding gap in adult social care was growing by £700 million a year and that pressing ahead would have been “deeply damaging”.
To learn more about the Care Act 2014 and how it affects you, if you are caring for a relative or friend, due to age, mental or physical disability or substance misuse, please visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-2014-part-1-factsheets
We also have some factsheets online or you can get in touch with us at 01992 58 69 69.