Planned cap on care home fees will not benefit older people

From 2016 there will be a £72,000 cap on fees for elderly care homes.

It is part of continued efforts from the Department of Health to prevent people from being forced to sell their homes to pay for care.

Economists have advised however, that for the majority of people the cap is too high to have a beneficial effect, and that it is likely that most people will continue to have to sell their homes.

The average resident of a care home stays for two years and four months, costing them £69,000 in fees, short of the £72,000 cap. The average amount paid in fees by a nursing home resident is also too low, at £57,000. Essentially, older people will not live long enough to benefits from the changes.

Additionally, the cap only covers eligible care costs, meaning that things like ‘bed and board’, which cost on average £12,000 a year, will not be included.

A study this year revealed a widening gap between pensioner income and the fees that they pay for their care. The Prestige Nursing + Care study revealed that the gap was 54% larger than the year before, and that it was wider in wealthier areas of the UK.

There will be other changes which may positively affect residents however; the system of means testing has been changed, so more people will receive a form of financial assistance. The limit currently stands at £23,350, but it will be raised to £118,000.

The charity Age UK have criticised the government’s approach and advised that they should provide more public information so that people can suitably financially plan for their retirement. They advised that the cap is less straightforward than it looks, and that you have to read the small print in order to understand the real effects of it on older people and their families.

Whilst Macks welcome the governments’ attempts to simplify and reduce costs, the need to seek advice from solicitors specialising in this area when planning ahead remains important.


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