Important changes to statutory funding of care delayed by coalition government’s attempts to reduce the deficit

Significant changes to the statutory funding of adult social care are required to address the needs of individuals who require long-term care and assistance. Unfortunately, the coalition government has continually failed to take the opportunity to carry out important reforms and the issue remains largely unresolved for vulnerable adults.

As well as offering comprehensive legal advice, Hilary Meredith Solicitors Limited recognises many clients require long-term support and care when they sustain an injury. Therefore when settling claims our client’s best interests are at the forefront of our minds and we endeavour to secure 100% of care damages required for them to enjoy the best possible quality of life.

We consider whether our clients are entitled to any statutory funding and consequently are only too familiar with the crippling costs that individuals face in order to fund their care. Significant numbers of people must self-fund the costs of care, and there are no limits on the sum that adults are liable to pay. Shockingly it is estimated that 40,000 homes are sold every year to fund the costs of care.

Furthermore, the vast array of legislation, over 30 Acts of Parliament, passed to address adult social care has resulted in a web of rules, guidance and regulations that are too obscure and complex to deliver a quality, affordable care service to vulnerable individuals.

Reform has been on the government’s agenda for years and in 2011 it looked as though the funding of adult social care was finally going to be addressed. The Commission on Funding of Care and Support, led by Andrew Dilnot, reported in July 2011 with numerous recommendations to improve the funding of care. Dilnot’s proposals included:

  • A £35,000 cap on the total amount an individual would have to pay towards their care;
  • Free social care for anyone with assets worth less than £100,000 by raising the means-test threshold from £25,000;
  • Free social care for those who develop care needs before they reach the age of 40 years old; and
  • Introducing a national system for assessing an individual’s eligibility that would initially be set at “substantial need”.

The Law Commission also conducted a review, lasting 3 years, which led to the Care and Support Draft Bill. The Bill contained several new provisions to shape the provision of social care around individuals and prioritise their wellbeing and needs. Rather than a complex array of legislation, guidance and regulations, the law would be consolidated and simplified in a unified statute to offer clear guidance on adult social care.

The government’s initial response to the reform proposals was promising. A white paper accepted the majority of recommendations, including Dilnot’s cap on costs. It seemed as though adult social care was going to be revolutionised and vulnerable individuals would be in a better position to fund the significant costs of care.

However, a progress report in August 2012 significantly backtracked from implementing any change. It stated that Dilnot’s recommended cap on costs would cost an estimated £1.7bn and financial difficulties would need to be addressed before the reforms could be introduced. It also suggested a £75,000 cap rather than Dilnot’s £35,000 cap and hinted at an opt-in voluntary version using a state insurance scheme. The government has since announced that they will not be making any decision on reforming the funding of adult social care until their next spending review.

Given the extensive research and reviews which have demonstrated the extent of the problem, we are deeply disappointed that the government has failed to take the opportunity to address the crisis in funding adult social care.

We understand the anxieties caused to individuals requiring long-term care and support and believe the government should do more to resolve the issue. Unfortunately the government merely implements policies that exacerbate the problem. For example, it has imposed significant cuts on local authorities whilst refusing to decide how adult care should be funded, leaving vulnerable individuals with no recourse for funding their care.

In the absence of reforms that address the crisis in statutory funding, we will continue to fight for our client’s best interests in securing them a settlement which enables them to receive the quality care they require. Although we currently await the government’s final decision on reform, we remain concerned that there may be no reform at all and the crisis will continue.

We urge the government to implement the reforms suggested by the Dilnot Commission and Law Commission and look to reduce the UK’s deficit by making cuts elsewhere, so the funding of adult social care and clients’ needs do not continue to suffer.