Care cap delayed

The implementation of a lifetime spending cap on the amount an individual would spend on care was a flagship of the former coalition government’s social care policy, and a manifesto commitment for the present government. However implementation of the spending cap, originally intended for April 2016, has now been delayed until 2020. This means after the next election, so this delay raises considerable doubts about whether the cap will ever be implemented at all.

Age UK supported the proposed spending cap in principle and still does, but as we have said before, the devil is in the detail. For example the Dilnot Commission on long term care funding, which thought up the idea of the cap, originally set the cap at £35,000- £50,000, which was carefully calculated to ensure that the less well off would benefit. This objective was undermined by the government’s decision to raise the cap to £72,000.

Now that details of the scheme have emerged – with draft regulations being published only just before the election – it has become clear that the top priority must be to stop the social care system that millions of older people depend on from collapsing in its entirety.The most urgent priority arises from the current situation where cash strapped local authorities have restricted care to the point where over a million older people who are unable to carry out at least one vital activity of daily living without difficulty (for example using the toilet, getting dressed) receive no care whatsoever.

The new national living wage, combined with an Employment Appeals Tribunal that care workers must be paid for travel between jobs, are very welcome but local authorities are receiving no extra funding to pay for the dramatic increase in care costs that will result. The care system therefore seems threatened with meltdown.

The Local Government Association recently called for the lifetime cap on spending to be delayed till 2017 in order to release funds for a one off injection of funds into social care. In fact the government has delayed the implementation of the cap beyond this, but has made no commitment that the money saved will go into the care system.  It is unlikely that there will be any further announcement about whether the savings or indeed any other resources will be put into the care system until after the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review is completed later in the autumn.

For Age UK therefore, the major issue is not the delay in implementing the cap, but ensuring that the £6 billion that the government claims to have saved by this measure is used to prevent the collapse of the care system. If savings are used to ensure that older people who are in desperate need of care receive the help they need then the delay in implementing the spending cap is justifiable, but older people will understandably be asking for assurance   that this is the intention.

Meanwhile, there is a continuing need to protect older people from the risk of endlessly spiralling care costs: that problem which the Dilnot Commission was convened to address has not gone away. But if there is to be a cap on costs in future, as Age UK hopes, it must be fit for purpose and it must operate as part of an effective and sustainable system of social care.

Read consumer advice about home and care on the Age UK website 


25 thoughts on “Care cap delayed”

  1. Sadly elderly people cannot be preserved in aspic awaiting help …… they get older and more needy NOW. My mother was in a nursing home for four years, after a debilitating stroke – it cost me well over £300,000 to keep her there. Thank heavens I had saved! Once her house was sold, yes I was able to reclaim the money, but it took a long, long time to sell. Getting old is a nightmare.

    1. My father lived in a council house. I got early retirement from London and my father came to live with me in a new house purchased from the proceeds of my London Home.
      The council made me prove my father had not contributed to the purchase of the new house. I showed them the sales advice of my London house.
      They then realised there was an £200,000 surplus.
      The council then said there was no home in the area within the council’s rates and I would have to pay £1,000 a month top up.
      I just refused. The social worker then said my father could be let out and he could seriously injure a child and I would be responsible.
      I just stuck to my guns and refused to pay.
      I then found out about full NHS funding and after a lot of argument it was granted.
      It then took about 2 months to find a home which would take Dad as he was violent.
      I was then approached by the social worker and she said a special meeting would have to take place because the home was extremely expensive.
      She said the meeting could not take place for 2 weeks due to annual leave and the room could be lost during that time.
      She said he could go to that home immediately if I paid.
      Again I refused. Suddenly 3 days later my father was transferred to the care home. So much for the meeting which could not take place for 2 weeks.

  2. This is really shocking how a major issue has just been swept away! After all the ‘hype’ from you and the campaign, I am amazed that we appear to be accepting that this is the end of the matter? A revised campaign is required to bring the issues back into the public eye, clearly setting out what the problems are, what is required and what our collective responsibilities are to support people in the future, I seem to recall that the Conservatives were keen to address this issue at the start of the previous Election!
    You have the supporters and public profile to move this issue to an acceptable conclusion…. don’t give in so easily! I may have to stop funding your organisation if you cannot get you heads around this important issue.

  3. The fact that you support the delay in implementing the cap on care costs destroys the credibility of Age UK. The government has had years to put the funding in place. According to reports a quarter or more of last years ovverseas aid was wasted. The funds could easily be made available but the government prefers IHT cuts for the wealthy etc.
    You lost my support.

  4. My Mum will probably be gone by 2020. As will all the savings she and my Dad worked hard for all of their lives.

  5. A very difficult situation all round — My Mum died in March this year – after 13 years with dementia and 9 in residential care – the last 2 years on continuing care status — her costs had come to £222,000 at that point – all her house money had gone — I have neighbours who have a Mum who has been in care for 3 years – and disposable funds have run out – so are selling her home which was rented out to help with costs — and other neighbours – with an 89 year old Mum with severe dementia — who cannot get any help at home at all — I do feel many people did not understand all the rules for the cap in the first place – and for those who have already borne huge costs it will be a big let down — but it has to be better and more cost effective for people to be able to stay in their own homes if they so wish and can get adequate help – this just isn’t happening at the moment.

  6. Surrey are selling off their care homes, I understand. So much for ‘integrated care’. They cannot possibly do individual care in all of the homes of elderly people; staffing alone says that it’s not workable.

    PS and Incidentally my granddaughter was given one of your stickers (aimed at clothing, naturally) but put it on her cheek for a laugh and came up in a great red weal that took over an hour to go down with the aid of antihistamine cream….I just thought I’d mention it – not going to sue, nor is she! – but you might try a different adhesive, tell your printer.

  7. My mother has been in care for nearly 6 years. She does nothing for herself including feeding and is hoisted all the time. She is also unable to talk coherently or make any choices as to what she does or doesn’t want. We had to sell her home to fund her care which has nearly all gone now.
    There will be nothing for her to leave to her family despite Mr. Cameron saying everyone should be able to leave their children something. Our only consolation!! is that she does not understand this. The care system desperately needs sorting out.

  8. This big item was a big item in the new Governments Manifesto to get elected, so anyone voting them in must now feel very mad about it has they have been misled.
    We need a big countrywide petition, marches etc. now to show the government and the MPs in parlament that in our wealthy country for older people to suffer like this is not on in the 21st century.

    All It needs is people power to show this is not good enough.
    R. Nock

    1. R. Nock
      All It needs is people power to show this is not good enough.

      I fully agree with you Ralf.

      Why don’t the other parties get together in parliament and demand the government implement the cap or call for a vote of no confidence?

  9. If the care cap cannot be introduced the asset allowance at least needs to be raised from an upper level of £23250 and lowest level of £14500.With funeral costs constantly spiralling these asset levels will leave families nothing.The current weekly personal allowance for the person in care also needs increasing as the £23/24 allowance is not enough to cover basic toiletries hair dressing clothes and a few little treats.

  10. what has gone wrong with this country , we don’t care about old people like we should . I think more young people need to be aware of what is happening as they need to realise that one day they may need help when they are old and will not get it . They think it will be ages before they are old , but in reality it comes very quick . What about the Humane rights of old people to a good standard of care !!! Its alright for the well off who can afford care , but what about the rest of us .The rich don’t want to know as they are not affected . Why do they not care ???

  11. I am disgusted by your position and will no longer donate on a regular basis I read the detailed government statement it is because the insurance industry has lobbied and not produced product
    HMG can still find overseas aid at a ridiculous level
    HMG will not protect funding for the old by ring fencing such as health and education
    We have a vote and will use it and my funds will no longer go to age uk

  12. Here is a repeat of my comment that is not shown here yet is shown on the version appearing on my Facebook page:-

    The foundation of the NHS was a mutual sharing of the cost of treatment of those of us unfortunate enough to become ill! A group that are severely prejudiced by this complacent approach of Age UK are those who suffer from Alzheimers disease.
    How can Help the Aged condone a situation where people are encouraged to purchase their own homes to pass onto their children and then those very homes are seized to pay for the cost of long term care.
    Funds for those pensioners on the poverty line must be taken from those pensioners who have saved for their future but from other budgets.
    Certainly pensioners who have paid a lifetime of taxes and National Insurance contributions deserve more support than new immigrants both legal or illegal!
    Maybe best to move to Scotland and support the SNP in maintaining free care for the elderly and budgeting to do so.
    Owing to failures in the NHS I recently had to use the private sector to obtain an urgent life saving operation. With a lifetime of work behind me I did not expect in my final years to have to pay expensive private health insurance premiums to get the standard of care that should be expected from the NHS

  13. It is terrible how old people are suffering – and their relatives – also the Care workers need a fair wage – I wish their could be an easy solution – it all come down to money ! – that needs to be spent wisely and sensibly – it makes no sense to me that the home visits should be so short – perhaps if the went to a day care center or something surely- something better could be thought out. My mother died in Hospital – they were supposed to be finding a care solution in a home- she was so ill with Lung Cancer after being ill with a stoke for a few years and you could tell she wouldn’t last long- I had had a holiday from work and had been to visit her every day – but on the day I had to go back to work there was to be a meeting – first thing in the morning – if it had been the afternoon i could have asked for half a day off -I couldn’t phone work – as it was not open and had to go in or would have been in trouble – I was worried for my job – My brother and Sister in law went and said I didn’t need to go – I think the Hospital wanted to send her home – they said it was impossible as i would be on my own with her and couldn’t have coped – which I couldn’t – She died the next day it was horrible – she only had a few hours to live I was going to visit her that evening but she died in the afternooon having been moved to another hospital nearer home–it was very upsetting

  14. CAP on care charges, you are joking aren’t you! We have a conservative government! We wont have anything left. I’ve hardly anything left to give to my children now. We’ve already sold two houses to pay for care for our elderly’s. I may loose mine because I cannot earn enough to pay my mortgage because the government say I can only earn up to £100. I’m a carer for my mother and don’t want her to go to a home too. That would mean selling another house. Did anyone really think that a conservative government were going to keep promises. Don’t you all get it. They really don’t care about anyone but themselves and thev’e got us so wrapped in regulation and law (certainly not a nanny state) that we can’t save ourselves. We personally have gone from millionaires to paupers through this system. There is no hope now. Make no mistake about it. They want what we’ve got they want all of it, and they don’t care about us. If you think anything different your fooling yourself. It’s a nightmare.

  15. In my view the Care Act and the Care Cap were always a partial and inadequate response to the issues of supporting older people. The overwhelming issue is one of money and resources, with the care industry and the government conspiring to avoid the questions of what we want in our frailer years and how we show all pay for it. We need state investment in supporting people to live independent, dignified and secure lives and that means some form of national insurance, hypothecated taxation and intergenerational support.
    We are unfortunately as far from this solution now as its possible to be, and many people will be condemned to a miserable, isolating and scary end to their lives.

  16. Are you outraged by the government’s deception in delaying the introduction of the Care Cap which formed part of the government election policy?
    May 2015 Mr Cameron said: ‘I have a simple view that if you have done the right thing – worked, saved and paid your taxes – you should be rewarded, not punished.
    ‘That is why I am determined to make Britain the best country in which to grow old – security and freedom when it comes to your pensions; guaranteed, personal access to your GP; and the ability to pass on the family home to your children.
    Well now for thousands of people the family home will have to be sold !
    The government has said needs more time to consider the issue and they expected more response from the insurance industry.

    The government under David Cameron had five years during which to solve this issue, and have failed miserably.

    But the answer is not too far away, the best place to grow old is the Republic of Ireland.

    As is widely known Ireland had huge financial problems, needed an ECB bail out, but is recovering, and they managed this while taking care of their elderly citizens with a better offering than that proposed for England, in fact it is closer to the Dilnot proposal.

    In Ireland you will contribute 80% of your assessable income and 7.5% of the value of any assets per annum.

    However, the first €36,000 of your assets, or €72,000 for a couple, will not be counted at all in the financial assessment.

    Your principal residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the first 3 years of your time in care, this is known as the 22.5% or ‘three year’ cap.
    It means that you will pay a 7.5% contribution based on your principal residence for a maximum of three years regardless of the time you spend in nursing home care. After 3 years, even if you are still getting long-term nursing home care, you will not pay any further contribution based on the principal residence. n the case of a couple, the contribution based on the principal residence will be capped at 11.25% where one member of the couple remains in the home while the other enters long term nursing home care.

    There are important safeguards built in to the Financial Assessment which are worth noting.

    Nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care

    You will keep a personal allowance of 20% of your income or 20% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (non-Contributory), whichever is the greater
    If you have a spouse/partner remaining at home, he/she will be left with 50% of the couple’s income or the maximum rate of the State Pension (non-Contributory), whichever is the greater.

    If both members of a couple enter nursing home care, they each retain at least 20% of their income, or 20% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (Non-Contributory), whichever is the greater.

    Why is it not possible that the elderly of England cannot be treated with the same care and respect as the Irish?

  17. Unfortunately the flaw in any such plans is in giving local authorities control of social care funds. They are so bureaucratic and top heavy with management, there are few that manage the funds effectively and support front line services as well as they should. I have worked in two local authorities where “savings” were made on paper and where any real cuts that took place fell on the front line and never on the heads of service. I suspect their failings are also reflected in the way the NHS is organised – and don’t get me started on the wastage!

  18. Many thanks for your comments. I work in the Campaigns Team here at Age UK and firstly just wanted to reassure you all that this change doesn’t mean we will stop campaigning for greater protections for older people and their families facing catastrophic care costs. We know this is a hugely disappointing decision and, as Stephen says, the delay is only justified if the savings are then put back into the care system to ensure it doesn’t completely collapse. This is what we will be campaigning for in the lead up to the spending review in November.

    Being able to tell the stories of people affected by the issues we campaign on is a crucial way to help us to bring about change and improve the lives of older people and their carers. I know many of you are disappointed by our position on the care cap, but your stories can really help make a difference and show why investment in care is so badly needed.

    If you would like to share your story further with us we’d love to hear from you. Just send an email to and my colleague Ellie will be in touch.

  19. I am appalled by Age UK’s support of the Governments decision to defer the cap on care till 2020. After all the hype, campaigning etc, I honestly believed that Age UK were serious about this issue, but I see now it was a ruse.
    I cannot support an organisation which betrays its principles and changes sides at the hint of a fight. If you had opposed it, we may still have had a chance.

    1. I fully support your views on this matter Age UK has shown itself to be spineless. The government has the funds available and their argument doesn’t hold water.

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