Javid defends social care plans and promises ‘everyone will be better off’

·3-min read

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said “everyone, doesn’t matter where they live in the country, will be better off” under the Government’s new social care plans.

Ministers have come under fire for changes to proposals which critics have said will mean poorer recipients of care, including those in the north of England and in areas with lower house prices, will be hit hardest by a cap on costs.

And the Observer reported on Sunday that senior Tory MPs were urging the Prime Minister to ditch the plans or risk being forced into a U-turn.

In September, the Government announced that an £86,000 cap on care costs would be put in place from October 2023.

It also said that people with assets up to £20,000 will not have to contribute anything to their care (up from £14,250), while those with assets to £100,000 will be eligible to receive some local authority support (up from £23,250).

But in a policy paper released on Wednesday, the Government said that for people who receive financial support for part of their care from their local authority, only the share they contribute themselves will go towards the £86,000 cap.

And groups said the change would mean such households receiving “far less protection than expected”, and that they could still face catastrophic costs that would eat up a greater share of their assets compared with wealthier recipients.

Sir Andrew Dilnot, who led a review into the future of funding social care a decade ago, had said those with fewer assets “will not see any benefit” from the new funding structure, with the Government set to make savings “exclusively” from this group.

But Mr Javid told the The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One that Sir Andrew was only comparing his own proposals with the Government’s plan.

The Health Secretary said: “No-one will have to pay more than £86,000, doesn’t matter who they are, where they live in the country.”

But he was pushed that not everyone has assets of more than £86,000, and Mr Javid replied: “That’s where we’ve set the cap, so to protect you from catastrophic costs, because most people’s care journey is not that long, most people’s care journey is a couple of years.

“But one in, I think it’s around one in seven people, have costs higher than £86,000.

“What we have also done, which is very different to what Andrew had set out in his original plans, is we’ve got a much more generous means test.

“So what our plans mean, taken together, is that everyone, everyone – doesn’t matter where they live in the country – will be better off under the new proposals that we set out, versus the current system. Everyone will be better off.”

The Government has said that the changes to the proposals will ensure people “do not reach the cap at an artificially faster rate than what they contribute”.

But Sir Andrew said there is a “sort of North-South axis to this that people living in northern and other less-high house price areas are likely to be hit harder by this on average”.

He told the Treasury Select Committee that poorer people with long care journeys will end up paying as much as their better off counterparts, and for some the amount of time they spend paying contributions towards their care could double.

In 2011, a commission headed by Sir Andrew recommended capping the amount someone should pay for care in their lifetime, fixed at between £25,000 and £50,000.

Sir Andrew said it should be “noted and welcomed” that the proposals will move the system away from a total reliance on means testing to a national risk pool for social care.

He gave credit to the Government for having the “courage” to deliver the proposals, but said parts, particularly the detail which emerged on Wednesday, make him “very uncomfortable”.

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