People should plan for care costs – say Hunt
Long-term care costs in old age will be capped at £75,000 as part of a £1 billion initiative, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.
He heralded the reforms as “historic”, pointing out they will save thousands of people from having to sell their family homes to pay for care.
However, campaigners have stressed that the cap, which will be funded by extending inheritance tax, is too high given that it is double the £35,000 recommended by the Dilnot Commission in 2011.
Meanwhile, thousands more people will face inheritance tax payments because of a three-year extension of the freeze in the £325,000 threshold – £650,000 for couples – at which it kicks in at 40%.
Mr Hunt also revealed that the threshold to supply means-tested Government support for care bills will rise from £23,250 to £123,000.
The measures, which will be introduced as part of the Care and Support Bill that from 2017, will benefit around 100,000 people every year who do not currently receive support, Mr Hunt added.
It is hoped that with guarantees over the maximum bill, will give people the chance to buy insurance that protects against possible care costs.
Mr Hunt also revealed that there will be a lower cap introduced for people who have care needs before they reach retirement age, while people with needs when they turn 18 will be entitled to free care.
He told MPs that people in Britain need to start thinking about social care costs in the same way they plan for their pensions.
Mr Hunt stressed that this is something UK Governments have left unchecked for too long.
“Whilst there are many other things that need to be done to prepare for an ageing population, these reforms do herald a historic change in the way that care and support is funded in this country,” he added.