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Government plans for overhaul of social care

View profile for Sharon Richardson
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The white paper on social care in England and new cap on care fees brings more confusion to an already confused system. It’s unlikely to save many people any money and does nothing to alleviate the immediate crisis facing social care.
 
There may be a positive difference for a very limited number of people but certainly not poorer pensioners. 
 
It’s clear the safety net for individuals has some significant holes in it. None of us can rely on it and each of us should make both a health and a wealth plan. It’s time we stopped thinking of planning for the future as something we do in later life and take positive action now. 
 
Daily we support older and vulnerable people facing issues like care home fee rises, poor quality of care, the desire to stay in your own home, and lack of access to funding for support for conditions like dementia. The earlier each of us begins to plan for our future, the more options we allow ourselves when we eventually do need support.
 
When thinking about protecting your home when it comes to paying for the cost of care, there are a few things to consider:
 
1. If you need to move into a care home, you’ll usually have a financial assessment to work out how much you’ll need to pay yourself. If you own your house and your spouse, partner or civil partner is still living there then a ‘property disregard’ could apply which means your home won’t be used to fund care costs.
 
2. However, the local authority will take income, including pensions, into account when they decide how much people will pay towards their own care. This may reduce the household income available to the spouse/partner who continues to live in the property.
 
3. In most cases, couples tend to own a property as joint tenants so that when one partner dies the property automatically passes to the survivor. One of the primary reasons people change this is to ensure their 50% share of the property passes to their children, rather than it automatically passing to a surviving spouse / partner (and consequently the whole value of the property being considered for the costs of care of the surviving partner / spouse). You can sever the joint tenancy over your property by written notice and then updating the ownership position with the Land Registry. You should then make a Will to ensure that your share of the property passes in accordance with your wishes. However, as an alternative, you may consider your home as an investment to fund your care. This would give you a greater ability to choose where you would like to be cared for (close to loved ones and relatives perhaps) and how (any preferences you may have that would incur a greater care cost).
 
Everyone’s circumstances are very different, so we’d always recommend speaking to a specialist solicitor who can support older and vulnerable people, like our SFE accredited solicitors – Sharon Richardson, Belinda-Jane Poulter and Bethany Worthy.
 
The new Social Care White Paper
 
Background – what’s changed in social care?
On Wednesday 1st December 2021 the Government published its White Paper on Social Care which followed the Prime Minister’s previous announcement that a new social care cap would be implemented from 2023 and no one in England would pay more than £86,000 in care fees during their lifetime.
 
The new ten-year vision for adult social care aims to provide greater choice for those receiving care and certainty over costs:
 
For the first time there will be a limit on the cost of care for everyone in the adult social care system (more detail on this point below).
  • £300m will be spent on supported housing
  • £150m will be invested in new technologies, such as personal alarm systems and online rotas for staff
  • £500m will be put towards improving training and qualifications for staff
The new cap on care costs will cover fees for personal care, like help with washing and dressing. It will not cover living costs such as care home fees, food or utility bills. 
 
From October 2023: 
  • Those with assets of less than £20,000 will not have to pay anything from These towards care fees - although they might have to pay from their income
  • Those with more than £100,000 in assets - the value of their home, savings or investments - will not get any financial help from the council
  • Those with assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will qualify for council help, but will have to pay £86,000 out of their own pocket to reach the cap