Care cap will help fewer than one in 20: Boris Johnson’s social care plan will help just 5% of elderly patients, economists warn… and it could take them three years to reach limit
- As much as half of total care home bills may be excluded from the £86,000 cap, landing families with tens of thousands of pounds extra to pay
- So-called ‘hotel costs’ in care homes – which include accommodation, food and heating – are not included
- Critics say it means some will still have to sell their homes to pay for care
Boris Johnson’s social care cap will help just 5 per cent of elderly people receiving care, economists warned last night.
It will take them at least three years to rack up bills to reach the limit – and because it starts in 2023, it would be 2026 before they reap the benefit.
It also emerged that as much as half of total care home bills may be excluded from the £86,000 cap, landing families with tens of thousands of pounds extra to pay.
So-called ‘hotel costs’ in care homes – which include accommodation, food and heating – are not included.
As only half of the bill counts towards the cap, by the time a pensioner gets to £86,000 they will have spent double that amount – £172,000.
Boris Johnson’s social care cap will help just 5 per cent of elderly people receiving care, economists warned last night
Critics say it means some people will still have to sell their homes to pay for care despite the ceiling. On top of this, only the most frail will qualify for state-funded care because town halls turn down more than half of requests because their needs are not deemed ‘substantial’ enough.
The Prime Minister’s lifetime cap on personal care costs, announced on Tuesday, is higher than charities wanted.
Analysts LaingBuisson said it meant just one in 20 of the 800,000 elderly people in residential care or receiving care in their own homes would benefit. That is just 40,000 individuals. Director William Laing said the figures were so low because it would take three years in a care home to meet the cap and six years in home care.
The average person dies less than two years after entering a care home – before they meet the cap. He said: ‘Counting care costs only (not hotel costs), private payers will reach the £86,000 cap after about three years in residential care and six years in home care.
‘My very rough, order of magnitude estimate is about 5 per cent of the 800,000 – that is 40,000 – will benefit from the cap.’
But once the system is up and running the proportion benefiting from the cap will be higher. The Health Foundation said it is believed the limit will help around one in six elderly.
It also emerged that as much as half of total care home bills may be excluded from the £86,000 cap, landing families with tens of thousands of pounds extra to pay
Mr Laing also said that, depending on what the Government decides to include in ‘hotel costs’, they could amount to 50 per cent of the total care bill. He said: ‘If they counted accommodation and all ancillary support and other general living costs it would amount to half.’
Sir Andrew Dilnot, who devised the cap idea, suggested a separate annual cap on hotel costs of around £10,000 would bring down the bill substantially. Another factor is that the cap will only fund basic care at the level a council would fund for the poorest people.
Those who want more expensive care would have to pay a ‘top-up’ which would not count towards the cap. Separately, the amount spent on care will count towards the cap only for those deemed eligible by the local council.
Only the frailest – those unable to do tasks such as washing, dressing and eating – qualify. At present, more than half of requests are turned down. Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said: ‘This level of cap means that older people shouldn’t have to face such stratospherically high bills as some do now, but we’ll have to see how much value the public places on this degree of reassurance. We think many will be disappointed once they realise that their chances of reaching the cap itself are quite slim, though more should still get some support from the revised means-test.’
The Department for Health and Social Care said a decision on a cap on hotel costs would be taken later in the year. A spokesman said: ‘Individuals in residential care are still responsible for daily living costs, including accommodation costs, just as they would be at home.’
It also emerged the NHS will be exempt from the new tax, which is levied on employers. But care home providers, who will have to pay it, described it as a ‘kick in the teeth’ to the sector.
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