Government ministers were considering a personal cap on social care costs in England prior to the coronavirus outbreak, a senior figure has said.
The idea was raised during talks with Sir Andrew Dilnot, who was asked to lead a cross-party commission on Funding for Care and Support in 2010, in January and February, the BBC reported.
A specific social care tax was among options discussed to cover the costs of social care, a senior figure involved in the talks said, and there had been ‘90% agreement’ on revisiting Sir Andrew’s model.
The Dilnot Commission recommended a partnership model with a much more generous means test and a lifetime ‘cap’ of between £25,000 and £50,000 on social care costs to ensure the state stepped in where people faced catastrophic costs that cannot be planned for.
The plans received Royal Assent in 2015, but a lack of political support from the then Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer following the general election led to further delays.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) said it was “a scandal” that reform was so close to being unveiled before being kicked down the road again.
ICG chair, Mike Padgham, said: “If true, this is an awful revelation and evidence of the latest of many horrendous delays in tackling social care which have left the sector chronically under-prepared for situations like coronavirus.
“We have been lobbying for reform for many years and to learn that plans were almost put in place but then delayed again is a kick in the teeth for all care providers at this challenging time.”
By contrast, Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, said the news that the plans may be revisited was “encouraging”.
“Because of the very significant costs involved, we believe any fair and sustainable system must include some sharing of costs between the state and those individuals in need of care, depending on their wealth. But it’s grossly unfair that some individuals needing longer term care can see their life savings wiped out because of catastrophic care costs,” he said.
“This is why it’s vital that any new system includes a cap on the lifetime care costs anyone faces, which will also allow people to plan ahead to pay their share while protecting inheritance aspirations. It’s therefore encouraging that reports suggest a system close to what was proposed nearly a decade ago by the Dilnot Commission is back under consideration. Ministers will face a difficult decision about what level to set any cap on social costs at, but this can’t be left any longer.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The care workforce is playing an essential role in the fight against Covid-19, caring for our loved ones during a challenging time. We have set out a comprehensive action plan to support the adult social care sector in England throughout the coronavirus outbreak, including expanding testing to all social care workers and care home residents, providing PPE and helping to minimise the spread of the virus to keep people safe.
“We know there’s a need for a long-term solution for social care and there are complex questions to address. We will bring forward a plan that puts social care on a sustainable footing.”