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Care Act 2014: An update

09/12/2015
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In the last legal update, we mentioned The Care Act, which came into force in April 2015, with the much publicised ‘care fee cap’ due to be introduced from April 2016.

The Conservatives put in a pledge at the heart of their election manifesto to introduce a £72,000 cap on how much people have to pay before the state steps in. However, ministers announced in July that they are delaying the introduction of the cap for four years amid concerns that it will cost £6 billion over the next five years.

The Care Act has overhauled the existing system of adult social care laws, regulations and guidance, developed over a period of 65 years. This is a positive development, and there are a number of new duties and responsibilities that apply to local authorities and the provision of social care:

  • The promotion of individual wellbeing as an overarching principle within all local authority activities.
  • New national eligibility criterion for anyone requesting services (and their carers) leading to rights to services for both.
  • The operation of a system of personal budgets.
  • A new ‘universal’ information and advice provision duty.
  • New ‘market shaping’ duties to ensure appropriate and adequate local service provision.

If you need care, your local authority will firstly do a care needs assessment to identify what help you need. Then they will carry out a means test to work out how much you have to pay. Currently, if you have assets of more than £23,250, you will need to pay the full cost of your care – subject to some disregards and exemptions.

We won’t see the introduction of any of the following aspects of The Care Act until 2020:

  • A lifetime care cost cap (£72,000) above which the State will meet the cost of assessed, eligible, social care needs. This will be excluding a new daily living cost charge.
  • An increased upper capital limit from £23,250 to £27,000 in non-residential care or where the value of your home is disregarded in residential care; or £118,000 where the value of your home is included in the means test for residential care provision.
  • An increased lower capital limit figure from £14,250 to £17,000, below which capital is disregarded.
  • The introduction of individual care accounts, which will track your weekly payments towards meeting your own eligible social care needs.

This is an area of law that is in a state of flux at the moment, with a lot of people worried about the lack of funding for the social care system. The government’s Spending Review was published on 25 November 2015, and we will report on the effect of this in the next legal update.

For more information contact Sofia Tayton on 01564 796848 or at sofia.tayton@lodders.co.uk

Sofia Tayton, Lodders Solicitors

Sofia Tayton, Lodders Solicitors

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