I am proud to support a government that is committed to taking the difficult decisions and tackling the problems in adult social care head on, creating a sustainable adult care system that is fit for the future.
As you may be aware, the Government has announced a cap on care costs and more generous means testing for care, which will benefit all adults. From October 2025, the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care over their lifetime will be capped at £86,000. Those who have assets below £20,000 will not have to pay anything for their care from their assets, however, may still need to make a contribution towards their care costs from their income.
In assessing what someone can afford to pay for care, a local authority must ensure that in addition to the minimum guaranteed income, people retain enough of their income, so they have sufficient funds to meet those needs not being met by the local authority. At present, some people face real financial pressures each week or month after paying for their care.
To allow people receiving means-tested support to keep more of their own income, it is welcome that, following the last review, from 6 April 2022 the MIG was unfrozen and was increased in line with inflation. The level of the Minimum Income Guarantee is reviewed annually with the next review ongoing. Any revised rates will be published in a Local Authority Circular.
I have noted the concerns raised about local authority funding and the Minimum Income Guarantee and will feed these back to Ministers.
The funding in the package of reforms announced by the Government covers the costs to Local Government of implementing the charging reforms, including the cap, the increased capital limit, moving towards paying a fair rate of care and the associated implementation costs. £1.3 billion in 2023-24 and £1.9 billion in 2024-25 will be distributed to local authorities through the Social Care Grant for adult and children’s social care.
Of course, while absolutely vital, these changes alone will not solve the long-term problems in the social care system. The Government worked alongside the social care sector to develop a Social Care White Paper to reform the way that social care is delivered, including support for younger adults and disabled people.
Regarding suggestions that all care be free, I believe that a universal system of free care for all would be needlessly expensive when those who are wealthy enough to contribute to their care should do so. Under the new reforms, those who have assets below £20,000 will not have to pay anything for their care from their assets. However, people may still need to make a contribution towards their care costs from their income. I support these reforms, which ensure that those who can afford to will contribute more to their care. I note the desire to see these reforms go further and you may be interested to know that the Government published a consultation on the charging reforms earlier this year. Its response to the consultation is available at the following address: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/operational-guidance-to-implement-a-lifetime-cap-on-care-costs
Local authorities maintain the discretion to waive debts and uplift the Minimum Income Guarantee, in line with the ‘Care and support statutory guidance’. As part of the Local Government Finance Settlement, local authorities can use over £1 billion of additional resources for social care in 2022/23.
Only the amount that an individual contributes towards their personal care will count towards the cap. This ensures that individuals living in different parts of the country, but contributing the same amount, do not progress towards the cap at different rates because of differences in amounts paid by their local authorities. It is right that less well-off people in different parts of the country benefit to the same extent and we do not see differences based simply on where someone lives. The new social care reforms are clear, fair and reduce complexity.