Two years from this week, people who go into a residential care or nursing home will have the total contribution they pay towards their care
capped at £86,000. That was the promise made by the Prime Minister in September when he announced his plan for social care. But in fact, everyone in a care or nursing home will have to pay more than £86,000 before the cap begins, and there are two reasons why.
Firstly, the cap covers the cost of the care in the residential home. It does not include the “hotel” costs – your room, food, heating, cleaning, etc. For example, if your weekly fee is £780 and the hotel costs are £275 then the cost of care is just £505, and each week only £505 counts towards the cap. At that rate, it will take three years and four months before the cap kicks in and the state pays your bill. By then you will have paid £133,000 – and will still need to pay the hotel costs of £275 a week.
The second reason is that the actual care costs may not count in full towards reaching the cap. When a person first goes into care, the local council will assess what their care needs are and how much those care needs can be bought for. If, in the example above, the care could be bought for £439 a week instead of the £505 that is being charged by the home, then only the £439 would count towards the cap and it would be three years and ten months before the cap kicked in. By then you would have paid over £150,000 – and, again, you would continue to pay the hotel costs of £275 a week.
Most people never go into a care or nursing home. And most of those who do will not live long enough to benefit from the cap, as the average life expectancy in homes is two and a half years.
And that brings us to more bad news: the new rules begin on 1 October 2023 and the cap will only apply to fees paid by those in care from that time, meaning money paid before that date won’t count.
Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4. QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com Paul cannot answer you personally, but he will reflect them in his column.