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Friday, 17 July 2015

Government delays introducing £72K cap on social care costs

Written by The Press Association

The Government is delaying plans to introduce a £72,000 cap on social care costs until April 2020, the Department of Health has announced.

Limits on the amount an individual paid towards their care were due to come in to force next year but ministers have pushed back the plans amid concerns from councils about how they would meet the costs.

Officials said the Government was still fully committed to introducing the cap within this Parliament but wanted to make sure it was workable from day one.

The cap was one of the key measures included in the coalition's Care Act to protect families from the staggering bills that can be run up.

It was set at more than double the £35,000 recommended by the independent Dilnot Commission in 2011 but the Government insisted it would ''give everyone peace of mind by protecting them from catastrophic costs''.

But the Local Government Association earlier this month wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, calling for the measure to be delayed.

The letter warned that the funding gap in adult social care is growing by a minimum of £700 million a year.

It added: "It would be deeply damaging to press ahead with a costly and ambitious reform programme if the very foundations of the system we are reforming cannot be sustained."

Government funding to local authorities was cut by 37% in real terms over the last parliament.

Last month, the National Audit Office warned that councils could find themselves forced to cut services due to a potential shortfall in funding for major changes to the social care system as the first phase of the Act was introduced.

In a letter to the LGA, social care minister Alistair Burt said the decision had been taken "in light of genuine concerns" raised by local councils.

He wrote: "We have taken the difficult decision to delay the introduction of the cap on care costs system and that this will now be introduced from April 2020.

"I want to assure you that this is not a decision that has been taken lightly, but one that has followed from consideration of the genuine concerns you have outlined."

"The consultation earlier this year highlighted significant concerns about this provision and the extra time will enable us to better understand the potential impact on the care market and the interaction with the cap on care costs system," he added.

"We will also now defer the introduction of the proposed appeals system for care and support to enable it to be considered as part of the wider spending review that will launch shortly."

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