Here are the top 10 points from the Conservative social care manifesto:
- Propose to align the future basis for means-testing for domiciliary care with that for residential care. This will mean that the value of the family home will be taken into account along with other assets and income, whether care is provided at home, or in a residential or nursing care home. Currently this only applies to those needing residential care (subject to various property disregards).
- Propose to introduce a single capital floor, set at £100,000, more than four times the current means test threshold. This will ensure that, no matter how large the cost of care turns out to be, people will always retain at least £100,000 of their savings and assets, including value in the family home.
- Propose to extend the current freedom to defer payments for residential care to those receiving care at home, so no-one will have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care (by extending deferred payment arrangements to cover care at home).
- Propose a cap on how much people pay towards their care, but amount not disclosed and to be discussed and agreed after the election.
- Winter fuel payments will be means tested and the money released will be transferred directly to health and social care.
- Workers will be given the right to request up to a year’s unpaid leave to care for a relative.
- Better use of technology and specialist housing to help people keep their independence and not block beds after hospital stays.
- NHS spending will rise by £8bn in real terms by 2020 (not immediately clear where the money’s coming from or how much of the £8bn is new money).
- Introduction of a new GP contract to help develop wider primary care services.
- Retain the 95% A&E target and the 18 week elective care standards.
The Conservatives wanted people to pay more towards the cost of their care, rather than a caped system that will mean local authorities take the hit – and thus ultimately tax payers paying above the cap wherever it is set, but they have decided to U-turn on the catastrophic nature of costs for some in the face of criticism. The level of the cap (described by Teresa May as an ‘absolute limit’) is unknown but she says ‘would be a matter for the consultation’ that will follow the election.
The Conservatives are not providing any modelling on numbers, but there seems to be two main groups in terms of the bulk of proposals – cash-rich non-homeowners and homeowners of low-value properties (or at least properties they don’t have much equity in). That said, to benefit from the guarantee that £100,000 of your assets will be left untouched, your local council will have to assess your care needs as being severe enough to warrant help in the first place (i.e. establish an eligible care need).
Jacqueline Berry, Director at My Care Consultant commented:
“The Conservative party’s manifesto is disappointing especially after they had raised expectations of major changes to the social care sector and funding. This reform is unlikely to solve the social care problem, but will simply move the funding responsibility, and certainly doesn’t address the issue of there being no joined up thinking between social care and the NHS.
By the means-test threshold being raised to £100,000 some protection will be provided for people with modest assets, but by including the value of people’s family homes in the means test is likely to result in more people paying for care services.
Given that more people will ultimately pay for their care, the importance of accurate information and paying for care advice will increase as a result, especially if they want to ensure a first class care environment. Whilst deferred payment arrangements provided by the government will become more widespread, not everyone will want to ultimately pay for their care from their estate”.