A smiling carer chats with an elderly lady

Fairer care funding – Dilnot recommends cap on care home contributions

The Dilnot Commission yesterday published its review of the funding of care and support in England, and recommends that a national standard of care should be set to deliver consistent and sustainable services to people, regardless of where they live.

The report recommends that individuals should make lifetime contributions towards the care that they will need, but that contribution should be capped at between £25,000 and £50,000 – Dilnot recommends £35,000 as a fair figure. The State would pay for the cost of care above the capped figure.

In addition, the report recommends that people living in care homes would be expected to contribute a standard amount to cover their general living costs, such as food and accommodation. A figure in the range of £7,000 to £10,000 a year has been suggested.

The report recommends that means testing should remain so that the poorest would not need to pay for their care, but the upper limit of the means testing threshold should be raised from £23,250 to £100,000. The report says the combination of the capped cost model (with the cap set at £35,000) and the extended means test would ensure that no one going into residential care would have to spend more than 30% of their assets on their care costs.

The report says that by clarifying the support that the State will provide and capping the overall financial risk to individuals, the financial services industry will be encouraged to develop new products to cover the costs below the cap which could be linked to pensions, savings, insurance and housing.

Of course, these are only recommendations and the Government may consider that the shortfall to be provided by the State, would be too great to be able to implement the funding cap or raise the upper limit on the means-test threshold.

It is hard to know where the debate on care provision will end up and all we can hope for is that the current system will be improved. Whatever changes are implemented, simplification needs to be at the heart of the change.