MPs urged to protect constituents from crippling care costs

The Health Foundation and the King’s Fund have jointly urged MPs in Yorkshire, the Midlands and North East to vote against the government’s social care cap amendment to save their poorer constituents from ‘crippling care costs’.

Set to reach final stages in the House of Commons on 25 April, the Health and Care Bill includes an amendment that would mean the government’s social care reforms would offer less protection to poorer people.

The two leading health charities warn that people in Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North East of England would see the biggest erosion of their protection against high care costs, as a result of the amendment.

In 2021, the government proposed a cap of £86,000 on the lifetime care costs that people face. But it also proposed amending the 2014 Care Act so that local authority support that people receive to help them meet their care costs would no longer count towards the cap. This is a departure from the Dilnot Commission’s proposals, which significantly reduces the benefits of the reforms for people with lower levels of wealth. Those with housing wealth of more than £186,000 are unaffected.

The change means that, irrespective of wealth and assets, everyone is exposed to the same costs.

A recent report compared the financial effect of the change for people in different regions of the country. For example, for people spending ten years in residential care it found that people in North East would spend an extra six per cent of their assets on care, on average, as a result of the amendment. This is equivalent to an average increase in contribution of £5,700.

Furthermore, the IFS and Health Foundation findings indicate that in Yorkshire and Humber people would spend an extra five per cent of their assets, equivalent to £5,300, whilst in the Midlands it would see an increase in payments worth four per cent of assets, equivalent to £4,600.

These increases compare to two per cent in the South East and one per cent in London, equivalent to £3,800 and £2,800 respectively.

Charles Tallack, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: “The government’s amendment represents a significant watering down of the pledge to protect people from catastrophic care costs. At a time when the country is facing the biggest hit to household finances since the 1950s, government should be looking to increase financial protection for poorer households. Yet this measure will disproportionally affect people with lower wealth and in poorer areas of the country. This is not levelling up: it’s unfair and a backwards step.”

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