Government consultation on the proposed cap on care costs: but does the cap fit?

Jenny And James - Age Uk Case Study by Sam Mellish

Many of us as we get older will need help from social care to help with things like washing, dressing and preparing meals. But paying for care can be hugely expensive and many people find themselves having to spend all of their savings for this support in later life. The Government is proposing introducing a lifetime cap on care costs in a bid to help those facing catastrophic care costs.

What’s being proposed?

Once an individual spends £72,000 on their care the Government will take over paying their costs. The idea is that this will protect people from using up all of their savings in order to fund their care. Alongside this, people will be able to keep more in savings before being eligible for financial support. Watch our film to find out more.

Whilst this sounds like a good idea in theory, there are several issues with the proposal that affect how the cap will work in practice for older people.

Firstly, you have to be assessed by your Local Authority as having high enough needs to be eligible for care (information from page 23.) This means the cap will only apply to people with higher support needs, and money people have already spent on their care won’t count towards the cap.

Then there is the fact that the cap only includes money spent on ‘care costs’. For people in residential care, this means paying additional fees for food, accommodation and other ‘living costs’, which fall outside of spending that counts towards the cap. So in reality, most people will have to spend far more than £72,000 before becoming eligible for help with care costs.

The cap only includes spending on care services at the rate a council would pay for that same service. But as many of you may know, councils are able to arrange deals from their care providers because they are buying in bulk, meaning most individuals paying for their own care will pay a higher rate than the council does for the equivalent care.  And this extra spending, known as ‘top up payments’, doesn’t count towards the cap.

Finally the recommended £72,000 cap is more than twice as high as the Dilnot Commission’s original suggestion of £35,000. Setting the cap at such a high level means most older people will never reach it – the Department of Health have estimated this will benefit just 8% of older people needing care.

And crucially, the proposed cap doesn’t address the fact that the care system remains complicated and difficult to navigate. For those suddenly flung into the unfamiliar territory of arranging care, especially during a crisis, this will be an extra issue to understand.

Have your say

So, the proposed cap is proving a topic of hot debate for older people. It’s important the Government takes into account your views, and we’re encouraging individuals and local Age UKs to make the most of the opportunity to let the Government know what they think of the plans.

Make sure your voice is heard. Take part in our online action





Author: Age UK

Age UK is dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life. In the UK we help more than 7 million older people each year by providing advice, combating loneliness and enabling independence. Locally, we work as part of a network of independent charities which includes Age UK, Age Cymru, Age NI and Age Scotland and over 150 local Age UK partners in England and Wales.

3 thoughts on “Government consultation on the proposed cap on care costs: but does the cap fit?”

  1. so what happens to those who don’t have savings so will never reach any cap that is set? does it mean they wont be eligible for care at all?including if they need to go into a care home?

  2. Hi hugosmum70,

    Anyone with savings below the lower capital limit set by the Government, or with no savings at all, will have their care paid for by their local authority. Under the current set of reforms the lower capital limit (which basically means the threshold for savings) is set at £27,000. So anyone with under £27,000 will get their social care paid for, and anyone who begins paying for their care when they have over £27,000 will have their care paid for as soon as their savings fall below £27,000.

    I hope this is helpful- for more information, or if you have any concerns, feel free to email the Campaigns Team at


    Eleanor White
    Campaigns Officer

  3. thank you for clearing that up for me. don’t think my brain was computing right when i read it. so much these days is confusing with all the to-ing n fro-ing the govt keep doing, U-turns, nasty vindictive policies etc. saying theyll do certain things getting mixed up with what they ARE/HAVE done we no longer know what is now law/a policy gone through /or neither of those.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s