Whilst still “firmly committed” to cap care costs, the Department of Health said questions are now being raised whether the policy needs rethinking. These costs were to be limited to £72,000 for the over-65s.
For years councils have been warning that the care system covering residential care and help at home has been underfunded with a shortfall of £4.3bn predicted by the end of the decade.
There are also concerns that the rise in the national living wage would push up costs.
The Local Government Association [LGA] said that councils backed the introduction of the cap but that it was not possible to cope with the extra demands the changes would bring at the moment.
It had been predicted the changes would add £6bn to public sector spending over the course of five years.
The move was part of a raft of changes being introduced under the 2014 Care Act and included in the Conservative Party’s manifesto.
As well as capping costs, the changes would have provided a more generous system of state help.
At present those with assets over £23,250 do not get help from councils towards their costs. That amount was planned to rise to £118,000 claimed to stop people racking up “catastrophic” care costs in old age – one in 10 people who enter the care system end up having to pay out over £100,000.
In a written ministerial statement, the government said it was “firmly committed” to the plans, but it was clear following the letter from the LGA that the government needed to “think carefully”.
“This is not a decision that has been taken lightly. Further announcements will follow in due course.”
Age UK‘s Caroline Abrahams said the delay was the right decision as introducing the cap now would have been a “distraction” at a time when the care system was in a state of “cataclysmic” decline.
“What matters now is that the government grasps the scale of the galloping crisis and uses the spending review to bring forward effective solutions.”
She said she hoped the delay would lead to a rethink as the cap had been set too high in the first place.
Prof Martin Green, chief Executive of Care England, which represents care providers, said it was now time to come up with a “sustainable” solution “once and for all”.
“If the government refuses to address the issue of funding, we will have a care system in crisis and the NHS unable to cope with the pressure,” he added.
Be aware also that it is not just the costs but the rules and the issues of dealing with the red tape that can make this such a minefield and time consuming place to work through. And even some people within a local authority may not get it right – or may be slow in responding causing delays and stress.
Advisers qualified to help can make it so much easier and ensure that you get the financial outcome best for you.