Social care reform — alarm at Tory proposals

Johnson 15 Jan PMQs

At Prime Minister’s Questions on 15 January, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked Boris Johnson why the delay on reform of social care addressing the crisis.  Watch video here.

What some Conservatives have suggested so far, is even worse than now:

  • A class-biased two-tier system, whereby low-income people continue to get poor-quality care, while those who can pay, or can buy private insurance, get better care (Damian Green).
  • Increased personal taxation to pay for later care (Jeremy Hunt).

In England, the charging systems for residential care homes, and homecare — support at home — are different.  And Scotland has a different system with free personal care for pensioners.

Residential care homes:

If you have savings or “capital” below £14,250, you don’t have to pay anything.

If your savings are between £14,250 and £23,250, then the local Council will pay some and you are asked for a part contribution.

If your savings or capital is more than £23,250, then you pay the full cost of the residential home, until your savings go below the threshold.

But with homecare:

Disabled and older people with no savings can be charged immediately from our disability benefits.  As soon as the service starts, and before any assessment of what we can actually afford.  Councils say they have to charge more to comply with the Care Act.  But Councils are not obliged to charge, it is at their discretion.  These charges, and increases permitted by the Care Act, are what we are fighting now.

Greenwich photo before 29 Jan
Greenwich, 8 January 2020 

Hammersmith & Fulham Council is the only Council in England which has made a principled policy decision not to charge disabled and older people for homecare, following years of campaigning by local disabled and older people.

Debbie Domb shower pic
Debbie Domb and others successfully campaigned in Hammersmith & Fulham for an end to charges for homecare

Many people supported the Care Act becoming law, and accepted the charging system it expanded, because they were promised that the Care Act brought in a “lifetime cap on charges” limiting how much people would be charged for residential homes, so people would not have to sell their house.  As we warned at the time, it has brought in higher charges.

The lifetime cap does not help people being charged for support at home from our disability benefits, and who are not home-owners.

And to cap it all, the lifetime cap on charges was never implemented.  It was viewed as too expensive as it would cost £6 billion over 5 years.  Compared with the notorious HS2 trainline, where demolitions have blighted communities in Camden and beyond, and ancient woodland and wildlife are being destroyed forever, which is expected to cost up to £106 billion.

For more info, see our proposals on social care to the Labour Policy Forum.

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