The cap on the cost of care of £72,000 for over-65s and younger adults with disabilities that was meant to be introduced in 2016 has been postponed until 2020. It was due to be introduced following recommendations from the Dilnot Commission.
The Local Government Association requested the delay to meet the shortfalls in the current social care system. The gap between demand and resources is reportedly growing by a minimum of £700 million a year and is forecast to be at least £4.3 billion by 2020.
Commenting on the delay, Rossanna Trudgian, head of campaigns and activism at Mencap, said: “We welcome the government delay to the introduction of the care cap. The care system is critically under-funded and too many people with a learning disability are not getting the support they need. Getting a sustainable care system should be the priority before the introduction of a care cap.
“Many people with a learning disability, their parents and carers are very worried that further pressure on social care funding will have a negative impact on their lives. This combined with welfare cuts could lead to many more people with a learning disability to not get the right care and support they need to live independent and fulfilling lives.”
The current social care system covers such things as residential care and care at home – help with tasks such as washing and dressing, for example. Those with assets above £23,250 do not get help from their local council at present. This threshold would have risen to £118,000 under the changes, with around 35,000 people benefitting straight away. One in 10 people who currently enter the care system end up paying more than £100,000.
Prof Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents care providers, said the delay provided time to come up with a "sustainable" solution "once and for all.”
However, he warned: "If the government refuses to address the issue of funding, we will have a care system in crisis and the NHS unable to cope with the pressure."