Jeremy’s Blog – The Much Vaunted “Care Cap”

NurseOn Friday, the Department of Health announced that the planned introduction of the widely hyped Dilnot Care Cap would be delayed from 2016 to 2020.

This was in response to concerns from the Local Government Association about the funding crisis in the care sector and the impact of further government cut backs in local authority funding.

Will older people facing care costs be disappointed?  Many will be.  However, the reality is that the Care Cap would benefit relatively few.  It had been oversold as being the panacea for those paying their own care costs and was in danger of being a grave disappointment.  Many people would not qualify, only a limited amount of care cost would count towards the cap and they would have to pay their accommodation costs anyway.

Where the government is correct is in acknowledging that there is a crisis in social care funding and introducing the care cap without providing the cash to pay for it would have made the local authority funding problems worse.

Perhaps the previous week’s budget was the final straw for the Department of Health.  The new national minimum wage (no George Osborne, it is not a National Living Wage) is a somewhat cynical cover for the changes in tax credits for lower paid families.  This new minimum wage will affect the social care sector in particular where many employers pay only minimum wage.

Middleton Hall has always paid above minimum wage and we announced to our staff in April that we would be a Living Wage employer by the end of the year.  A real Living Wage employer, George.

It is a major financial commitment.  But all our dedicated and hard working staff should be paid the real Living Wage – they are genuinely our most important asset and our residents tell us all the time that it is the people that make the difference.  That is how we offer a quality driven service.

Care Homes paid at local authority rates cannot afford to pay a real Living Wage and, at current rates, cannot afford George Osborn’s new minimum wage either.  Despite some very good social care providers, the sector is tarnished with a reputation for poor quality after recent scandals.

A cost squeezed market does not make for good quality.

Time for a properly funded, quality driven market.  With or without the Care Cap.q7