Cheshire-based law firm SAS Daniels is warning Cheshire East’s ageing population that the Government’s pledge to put a cap on the cost of paying for care home fees isn’t as generous as it first appears. This warning comes as the Government announces that the £72,000 cap on care fees it promised from 2016, has now been delayed until 2020.
While critics are concerned over the Government’s decision to delay the cap, Justine Clowes, Head of Private Client at SAS Daniels and Chairperson of Solicitors for the Elderly, is more worried that the seemingly generous cap at £72,000 is actually a bit of a red herring.
Clowes explains: “What many people don’t realise is that the cap on care fees of £72,000 only applies to the actual care element, it excludes daily living costs covering accommodation and food.
“The cost of residential care can vary greatly depending on the rating of the care home and whether you require nursing care. However, it is estimated that a resident’s eligible care need is on average likely to amount to £250 per week or 35% of a typical care home fee. This means that on average it would take five to six years before the care cap is reached and the resident is eligible for any help. The reality is that this will be beyond the life expectancy of most care home residents and even if they do benefit it’s only likely to be for a short time.
Clowes continues: “When the Care Act was first introduced, the care funding reforms it announced promised greater support from the state. And, in theory the cap will protect people from the huge care costs that can mount up if an individual lives for a long time with the need for specialist care.
“However, with Cheshire East having the highest ageing population in the North West and the recent news that Macclesfield’s Hollins View will close in December, forcing many more families to now seek out private care, Cheshire’s residents need to be aware that in reality the cap isn’t all that it seems.
“The Government’s plan to delay implementation of the cap will no doubt come as a blow for those already receiving care as they will now be expected to pay an additional four years’ fees before their costs even begin to contribute to the cap. I suspect few will actually reach it in their life time.”
The Government made its recent decision to delay the implementation of the cap after the Local Government Association urged it to put the money back into the social care system. The Care Act was introduced in 2014 and was heralded as the biggest change in social care law in England for 60 years.