Overview of the care reforms
The Care Act 2014 is a piece of legislation that will deliver some radical changes to how social care is delivered and provided in England.
The Care Act, commonly known as the care reforms, places new responsibilities on local authorities in respect of how they assess people, who they assess and the support they offer both in terms of information and advice and financial support.
Below is a brief summary of some of the changes in the Care Act that may directly affect you if you are considering care now or in the future.
The Act is being introduced in two parts – April 2015 and then April 2020.
Please note that these changes only relate to England. Existing thresholds and arrangements remain unchanged in Wales (until 2020), Scotland and Northern Ireland.
From April 2015 local authorities are required to:
Establish and maintain a service for people in their area who have a need for care and support, with personalised and tailored information and advice, including access to ‘independent financial advice’ and ‘regulated financial advice’ so they can make informed choices about their care including how they pay for it.
Offer a new universal Deferred Payment Agreement (DPA) to individuals who are responsible for paying for their own care costs and don’t wish to sell their home to pay for their care or wish to defer the sale.
To be eligible for a DPA you must:
have eligible care needs;
have less than (or equal to) £23,250 in assets excluding the value of their home (ie in savings and other non-housing assets); and
your home is not disregarded, for example is not occupied by a spouse or dependent relative.
The DPA is an interest bearing loan and the local authority will secure a charge on the property. Interest will accrue until the Agreement is terminated which may be following the sale of the property, the death of the owner or the debt being settled.
Offer a care assessment to anyone with care or support needs. This assessment must take into account the individual’s wellbeing and matters that are important to them. Regardless of whether the individual is eligible for support the local authority must provide advice on how the needs can be met, reduced or prevented. Self-funders are entitled to request a care needs assessment.
Offer carers an assessment to assess their specific needs and identify support to maintain their wellbeing.
Follow the new national eligibility threshold (ie criteria) to determine if someone has eligible care needs and is eligible for state funded support.
From April 2020 the following will be introduced:
The introduction of a ‘Care Cap’ which will cap eligible care costs only. Care costs do no not include living costs or any other costs over and above the cost of the ‘care’ as deemed by your local authority. Living costs were notionally set at £230 per week (in 2014) however exact figures are to be confirmed for 2020.
The Care Cap is expected to be in the region of £72,000 for older people but is still to be decided for those aged between 25 and 65 years old. Exact figures are to be confirmed.
An entitlement to ask for a Care Account which will detail accumulated eligible care costs towards the Care Cap. It is expected this will be an annual statement.
The financial thresholds which determine state funded financial eligibility will increase. In 2014 the Department of Health set these thresholds as below however it is very likely that these figures will change by 2020.
Lower threshold from £14,250 to £17,000
Upper threshold from £23,250 to £27,000 (if your home is not included as part of
Upper threshold from £23,250 to £118,000 (if your home is included as part of your capital)