The real cost of care
The cost of care is an important issue for many of us, either because we have older relatives who need some form of care and support, or because we are looking forward to our own future needs and thinking about how to best prepare for that.
The government revealed a ‘care cap’ earlier this year, designed to take some of the burden off of paying for care during your lifetime. This cap was set at £72,000 and is due to come into force in April 2016.
However, there are many exemptions and stipulations that are applied to this cap that could mean people having a pay a lot more than this over the period that they need care. A report from Age UK highlights some of the issues associated with this, such as the fact that the cap does not include all care spending. Things like general living costs, for example, do not count towards the cap. Also, the cap only applies once you meet local authority eligibility criteria to receive care funding. If you have low or moderate needs, you may not qualify for financial help and you will need to pay for your own care and support. This spending does not count towards the cap.
Another thing to bear in mind is the fact that the cap only covers the cost that local authority pays for care. So, if you choose care services or a residential home that cost more than what the local authority pays, you could be asked to pay the difference, which doesn't count towards the care cap.
Once you reach the cap, the local authority takes over paying for care costs, but you may still need to pay top-up fees, or for additional services that are not covered by the local authority.
It seems as though, at present, there is no clear-cut, simple set of guidelines as to how the care cap will work, as there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration for an individual’s circumstances, including eligibility, location and services chosen.