How self funders have been treated so far!
So all our hopes for the ‘cap’ have gone now that it has been announced that it will not be implemented. I refer to the ‘cap’ which was our hope, as self funders, for an official, legal cap on the amount of funding we had to pay for social care so that we could all plan for the future and make sure we had enough funding for our needs before we could expect the state to take over. Of course we are in a privileged position to have sufficient to be able to pay for our own care and can’t expect the sympathy that people with no funding are entitled to when they cannot get the support they need on a day to day basis. However, it is just another example of how the social care system is not being comprehensively planned with everyone’s needs in mind and many of us don’t have an infinite amount to spend.
First, it was enshrined in the Care Act 2014 legislation that a cap would be introduced in April 2017 with the limit set and it seemed like just another part of the legislation to be implemented in time. However as time went on there were rumblings that the social care agenda was now so overwhelming there would be no social workers with time to do the initial assessments necessary to have a clear understanding of spending on need up to the cap. Without such an exercise there was no benchmark from which to begin measuring the cap and expenditure of each self funder. We were quietly told the ‘cap’s’ implementation would be delayed.
Then, earlier in the year, we had the debacle of the ‘dementia tax’ leading up to the last election. This was so confused in the way it was reported that it was not clear that the ‘cap’ would be abolished along with the Tory’s plans. It became a party political issue but somewhere in the mix was the idea of the original cap and the chance of a limit for individuals who are self funders on social care spending even if there was not the clarity of thought of the earlier legislation.
To add to the irony, self funders of residential care are finding they are subsidising the residential fee rates of those paid for by local councils because of the constraints on local authority expenditure and their failure to raise their rates for care home places in line with costs. What justification is there for this? Self funders are paying higher fees for care home places as local authorities will not increase the payment of fees in line with increased costs to care home owners!
Now the ‘cap’ has been abandoned for good and quietly dropped because of the insufficiency of social workers for that initial assessment. So there has been a false trail for those of us trying to plan long term social care needs costs! And we are left with the worry and uncertainty of knowing if our saved funding will be enough for all our long term care. Meanwhile, we have all been left with the offer of a social care advisory paper which may or may not mention the ‘cap’. Our only hope is that Andrew Dilnott, who designed the original ‘cap’ policy, is to be one of the advisory committee members.
Clare Evans MBE, Disability Equality and Social Care Consultant