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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has launched a public consultation that seeks views on the statutory guidance detailing how an £86,000 cap on care costs would operate in practice in England from October 2023.

The consultation will also use the feedback submitted to inform how the UK Government can support local authorities in their preparations for the care cost capping implementation.

Anyone can respond to the consultation, whether it is a local authority employee, a representative from a care provider, someone who uses social care currently, or an individual sharing their professional views.

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Background information

On 7 September 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from October 2023, the UK Government will introduce a new £86,000 cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care over their lifetime. The new cap applies to both new entrants to the social care system and existing users.

DHSC then published a policy paper in November 2021 explaining the workings of the new charging reform.

The local authority means test for financial support will continue to work in the same way as it does currently, the paper states. This means test determines what someone can afford to contribute towards the costs of their care based on the amount of assets and income a person has.

From October 2023, the points below explain how councils will apply the charging rules to determine a person’s contribution:

  • People with assets above the new upper capital limit (£100,000) will not receive local authority support and will fund their own care
  • Those between the new capital limits (£20,000-£100,000) will be charged what they can afford from income plus a means-tested ‘tariff’ contribution from assets – for every £250 of capital between the lower and upper limit, an income of £1 a week is assumed, and this will be payable towards the cost of care
  • People below the new capital limit (£20,000) will no longer contribute from their assets and only what they can afford from their income

For each person with eligible care needs, the council must provide either a personal budget, where the local authority is going to meet the person’s needs, or an independent personal budget (IPB), where the individual arranges their own care.

The personal budget will set out the cost to the local authority of the care they have arranged, whereas the IPB sets out what it would have cost the local authority to meet the person’s needs.

The person’s personal budget or IPB will be used to calculate the amount that will count towards the cap. For individuals who receive financial support for their care costs from their local authority, it is the amount that the individual contributes towards these costs that will count towards the cap, subject to Parliamentary approval.

Everyone will have a care account, which will be maintained by the council and will keep track of their progress towards the cap. Local authorities will provide regular care account statements, and engage early with the person once they are close to approaching the cap to discuss how their needs will be met.

Notably, the cap will not cover the daily living costs for people in care homes, such as food, rent and utility bills. People will remain responsible for their daily living costs throughout their care journey, including after they reach the cap. These costs will be set at a national, notional amount of £200 per week.

The consultation

Now, DHSC is seeking views on the statutory guidance that sets out how a cap on care costs would operate in practice from October 2023.

The draft operational guidance for implementing the care cost cap, which is what the consultation is based around, can be read in full here.

Questions in the consultation include whether the draft operational guidance is clear and workable for IPBs, what does and does not count towards the care cost cap, care accounts, and more.

It is important that the guidance for councils is clear and operable so that local authority officials and other stakeholders are able to prepare successfully for the implementation of this reform, the government says.

How to respond to the consultation

To respond to the consultation, people can submit their responses either online or via email at: chargingreformconsultation@dhsc.gov.uk.

The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 1 April 2022.

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