Jeremy Hunt announces Social Care reform

Jeremey Hunt has just announced the heavily pre-trailed social care reforms in the Commons. Here is Andrew Sparrow’s digest of his speech from the Guardian’s Live Blog:

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, says none of us know what care needs we will face when we get older.

Many older people face paying “limitless, often ruinous” care costs.

The current system is “desperately unfair”. More than 30,000 people a year have their savings wiped out.

This discourages people from saving, he says.

Today he is announcing the government’s proposals.

A cap will be introduced for the maximum amount that an individual might have to pay, and the wealth threshold below which people can get some state support will be significantly lifted.

From April 2017 the cap will apply, he says.

It will be set at £61,00 in 2011 prices, or £75,000 in 2017.

This is the maximum anyone will have to pay. Knowing this, they will be able to obtain insurance.

Hunt is now talking about the wealth threshold. Currently anyone with assets worth more than £23,250 does not get any state support.

Andrew Dilnot recommended lifting this to £100,000. The government will accept this. The new figure will be £123,000 from 2017, which is the same as £100,000 in 2010-11.

These reforms will cost £1bn a year by the end of the next parliament.

Some of the money will come from freezing the inheritance tax threshold at £325,000 for three years from 2015-16.

The rest will come from employers’ national insurance contributions being released as a result of the single state pension reforms.

Hunt says people need to plan for their social care costs as much as they plan for their pension.

The government is determined to help people who have worked hard and done the right thing, he says.

The reforms will also be sustainable.

Hunt says he wants the country to be one of the best places in the world to grow old.

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2 Comments

  • I welcome this announcement today. This is an immensley important issue that successive governments have continuously kicked into the long grass. Last momth Centre Forum published a research paper on the Dilnot proposals: Delivering
    Dilnot: paying for elderly care
    .

    Focus deliverers will have been frustrated at times by not being able to access sheltered housing to deliver pamphlets. Many of us, when campaigning, wil have visited care homes, getting in early for those postal votes. We will have seen firsthand the difference in the quality of care available in Local Authority Homes and Private Homes.

    The Centre Forum report quotes the philosopher, Abraham J. Heschel, who said “a test of a people is how it behaves toward the old. It is easy to love children. Even tyrants and dictators make a point of being fond of children. But the affection and care for the old, the incurable, the helpless are the true gold mines of a culture.”

    Navigating the maze of funding elderly care is an onerous task, even for the financially literate. It is an impossible hurdle for many carers and our senior citizens. These proposals aim to provide some certaintity around long term care costs. We still have a ways to go on this and even these modest measures are five years away.

  • Like Joe I welcome this announcement, particularly as it seems that Jeremy Hunt has had some sensible advice in setting the thresholds – lets hope that these thresholds are indexed and hence will in time align with the inheritance tax threshold, rather than be set in stone and so become worthless.

    It will be interesting to see the effect of raising the £23.250 threshold to a £100,000 on the wealth creation and savings habits of the less well off.

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