Will Carers benefit from Jeremy Hunt's new social care announcement?

Politicians have long been mindful of the time bomb of care costs as the population of the
old and very old continues to rise. Stories of catastrophic costs and desperate attempts to save the
family home from being sold off to pay the bills do not play well in politics. So it is no surprise that
the first big attempt to get to grips with this issue would focus on limiting individual liability for
care costs through something like the cap now being proposed.

This is good news for many with caring responsibilities. One in ten people will have care costs that
exceed £100,000 and the problem for both elderly people and their carers is that no-one knows in
advance who is going to face these bills. For carers, the knowledge that there is an ultimate limit on
what has to be paid before all of the family inheritance is consumed can only help in reducing stress
and family tensions. And having a clear picture of how much they may have to pay for care will help
carers support their elderly relatives with planning for future eventualities.

For others with more modest incomes and savings the more generous asset allowance for means-
tested care will also provide welcome relief for carers. The pressure to find the money to pay for
care or make do with what friends and relatives can offer inevitably puts a great strain on family
carers to step in to fill the gap. Anything that alleviates this by providing better access to state
funded care can only be a good thing.

The problem is that if you are not one of the frail rich who will live long enough to benefit from
the £72,000 cap and you are not assessed as having serious or critical care needs, you probably
won’t benefit at all from these new proposals. Local authorities are withdrawing from providing
care for those with only low or moderate care needs. Family members, friends and neighbours will
struggle on trying to support people with low level needs – as dressing, washing and preparing food
are apparently now classified. Let’s hope that today’s tales of old ladies selling off the treasured
family home are not replaced by tomorrow’s horror stories of vulnerable old people left to fend for
themselves, with all the consequences that that entails.

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