The change to social care has sparked accusations that it will be unfair on poorer people and those who live in areas where homes are worth less
Having promised to “fix the crisis in social care” when he was elected as prime minister, Boris Johnson in September announced a cap to care costs for adults in England starting from October 2023, promising a cap of £86,000 on how much an individual would have to pay over their lifetime.
A controversial change to the UK government’s social care reforms within England has now been backed by MPs, despite critics arguing that the move will disproportionately affect the poorest care recipients.
MPs voted 272 to 246, meaning a majority of 26, to add the proposal to the Health and Care Bill.
A total of 18 Conservatives had voted against the new plans, joining Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, as the Prime Minister’s working majority of 80 was cut sharply.
A further 70 Conservatives had no vote recorded on the issue, although this does not necessarily mean that those MPs abstained.
This comes after deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said that the UK is now moving at “considerable pace” with its booster programme. The COVID booster vaccines rollout has been extended to all adults over the age of 40 from today, it has now been announced.
Having promised to “fix the crisis in social care” on the steps of Downing Street when he was first elected as prime minister, Mr Johnson in September announced a limit on care costs for adults within England from October of 2023, promising a limit of £86,000 on how much an individual was required to pay over their lifetime.
Last week, the government had announced that it was introducing an amendment to these reforms which will mean that only the amount a person in England personally contributes to their care costs will count towards this new £86,000 cap.
Anything that the individual’s local authority contributes will not be counted within this limit.
The change has sparked accusations that it will be unfair on poorer people and those who live in areas where homes are worth less.
It means that wealthy people who do not qualify for support will hit the cap threshold more quickly than poorer people who will have part of their care funded by the council.
In essence, people who will be paying for all or part of their care will end up spending less than before if they end up needing prolonged care.
People who have less than £20,000 in assets; value of their home, savings or investments, will not have to pay anything towards their care, which is up from £14,250.
Those who own assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will also now be eligible for new means-tested financial support from their local authorities in order to help with the cost of their care.
This is calculated by taking into account how much income you have; and whether you are nearer to the £20,000 lower limit or £100,000 upper limit.
For example, if you have a home worth £106,000, you would qualify for the new means-tested system once your care costs go above £6,000.
However, those council payments do not count towards the £86,000 cap, which means when the person dies, that amount could still need to be paid for from their estate.
This comes after the PM tore up the independent system for combating sleaze within parliament on Wednesday as he threw the government’s weight behind protecting a Tory MP who was found to have repeatedly breached lobbying rules.
Because the £86,000 cap is universal, someone with a house worth £106,000 and long-term social care needs costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, could end up having their estate reduced to just £20,000.
In contrast, someone in exactly the same position with a £500,000 house would be able to leave a much greater proportion of their assets – £414,000 – to their next of kin.
But the richest in the country will see a greater share of their assets protected; and those who are less well-off could still be forced to use up their savings or sell their home to pay for their care.
Economist Sir Andrew Dilnot, who proposed a cap on costs 10 years ago, said the change will mean that poorer recipients of care will be hit the hardest.
“It would mean those who are less well off will hit the cap after much longer than those who are better off and will end up having to spend, if they have a long care journey, as much of their own money as people who are much better off,” he has said.