Across Elmbridge, I know that many people worry about social care. In fact, in my recent local survey, hundreds of you highlighted the crucial issue of caring for the elderly and vulnerable.
Local residents have long been concerned that, under the current social care system, they or their families may incur bills that they can’t predict and may not be able to afford. It’s easy to see why, as anyone with assets over £23,250 currently has to pay for their care in full, and one in seven 65-year-olds will have total care costs of over £100,000. People fear they will not be able to bear the costs, or will be forced to sell their home. This can be particularly distressing for partners that care for someone with dementia.
This is why the government recently announced a sustainable and costed new plan for social care, which will make a transformational difference to Elmbridge residents bearing in mind our ageing population and property prices.
There are two key elements to the plan:
- Capping care costs. There will be a new cap, of £86,000, on the amount that any individual will have to contribute to the cost of their care. This means an end to unpredictable or even unlimited costs – protecting people’s homes and reassuring those with long-term conditions such as dementia.
- Protecting those without substantial assets. There will also be protection for those without substantial assets to pay for their care. Anyone with less than £20,000 in assets will have all their care costs covered by the state, while those with assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will receive means-tested support – never paying more than £86,000 in total. This cap will also enable insurers to step in with policies to help people to meet their costs.
These reforms must be properly funded, so the government is introducing a new Health and Social Care Levy.
This will be charged at 1.25%, based on National Insurance Contributions, and will raise revenue for these reforms as well as more funding for the NHS (given the COVID backlog of cases). Importantly, the levy is progressive – those earning more will pay more, and the highest-earning 14% of taxpayers will pay around half of the revenue.
This plan is responsible, fair and necessary – grasping the nettle of social care reform once and for all and delivering for Elmbridge residents. It is disappointing to see both Labour and the Lib Dems vote against a policy that will benefit us here in Elmbridge.