Plans to reform the way people pay for social care in England have been voted on by MPs. The government’s proposals were approved but it faced significant opposition from other political parties and some of its own MPs – with concerns that not enough is being done to protect the poorest pensioners.
The reforms include a cap – or limit – on the amount people will have to pay towards their personal care.
It will be set at £86,000. After this has been reached, the local authority will pay for the care.
This does not include living costs such as food, energy bills or accommodation.
There have been claims about how much these changes will benefit people – we’ve been looking at some of them.
Boris Johnson: ‘If you’ve got £100,000 or less, we’ll help you and that doesn’t include your housing asset – your home. There’s a housing disregard for as long as you and your spouse are in it’
As well as the cap, people will be eligible for some financial help from their local council towards the cost of care.
This is means-tested and will be available to people who need social care and have less than £100,000 in assets.
If someone has less than £20,000 in assets, then they won’t have to spend any of those assets on their personal care.
The question being discussed by the prime minister is when your home counts towards your assets.
He’s right in his explanation. If you are receiving social care at home or if you are in a care home and your spouse is living in your home, the value of the home is not counted towards your assets. That’s called the housing disregard.
If you go into a care home and you do not have a spouse living in your home, then the value of your home is counted towards your assets and you may have to sell it, although there are schemes that allow you to defer the costs, and for the property to be sold after you die.
This is controversial because it is at odds with what the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto said.
It promised that: “nobody needing care should be forced to sell their home to pay for it”.
But, as we’ve pointed out before, the government’s language around this has shifted since the manifesto pledge.
The Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said “no-one will have to sell their house in their lifetime”.
And Business Minister Paul Scully told Sky News today: “There will be fewer people selling their houses and hopefully none.”
Jonathan Ashworth: ‘If you are unfortunate enough to need social care and you live in an £80,000 house in say Barrow or Hartlepool or Mansfield, you’ll lose nearly everything’
The first thing to say about this claim from Labour’s shadow health secretary is that this would only be the case if somebody was receiving social care in a care home – not if they were getting care in their own home.
If they were receiving care at home or had a spouse living at home, then the home would not count towards their assets – under the housing disregard.
If this wasn’t the case, the rules mean that you would have to contribute from your savings and other assets towards your social care until you got down to having assets worth £20,000. This could include having to agree to sell your home in future.
So in Mr Ashworth’s example, if the £80,000 house was your only asset, you could lose three-quarters of your assets.
And remember, these figures cover personal care and not other costs such as accommodation and food. People may be eligible for means-tested benefits to help with those costs.
This piece was updated on 23 November to clarify the means-testing for social care support.