House of Lords rejects change to social care cap

March 9, 2022

The Government has lost a vote in the House of Lords relating to the proposed amendment to the cap on social care costs.

The decisive vote, which took place on 7th March, saw 198 members of the House voting in favour of dropping the Government’s proposed cap and 158 voted against its removal.

In September the Government announced a cap on lifetime social care costs in England, which was planned to begin in October 2023 and set at a level of £86,000. When the possibility of a cap was first legislated for in the 2014 Care Act, total care costs incurred – including those covered by council funding for those with low assets or income – were to count towards the cap. However, in November 2021, the Government proposed to amend the Care Act so that only the amount someone spends themselves would count towards the cap. This amendment is now being considered by Parliament.

A joint Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Health Foundation report, funded by the Health Foundation, found that the proposed Government amendment would impact most strongly those older people with modest levels of wealth. Those with wealth, including their home, of around £75,000 to £150,000 would face the biggest loss of protection as a result of the amendment. The result is that someone with around £110,000 in assets could lose 78% of their total wealth even after the cap is in place, while someone with £500,000 could use up only 17%. The report showed that people living in less affluent areas, such as parts of the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and the Midlands, would be most disadvantaged by the change to the cap on social care costs.

Commenting on the vote, Sally Warren, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said, ‘I welcome the House of Lords decision to reject the government’s planned change to the cap on social care costs. The change would leave many poorer people still exposed to the risk of having to sell their home to fund their care, while wealthier people would enjoy protection from the very high costs that can come with needing social care for long periods of time.

Sally Warren added, ‘Ministers may now ask MPs to vote again on the change in a bid to overrule the House of Lords. Reinstating this regressive change would run counter to the government’s ambition to “level up”, as well as the promise that no-one would have to sell their home to pay for their care. I encourage members of parliament to consider whether they want to back a policy that will save the Treasury money, but at the direct expense of poorer people living in the North and Midlands who need social care.’

Visit the Health Foundation website to read the report relating to the social care cap.

In other news, Carers UK has strongly welcomed the news that Peers have successfully won an amendment against the Government’s attempt to revoke the Community Care Act 2003, in the Health and Care Bill during its report stage in the Lords.

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