These reforms include the introduction of a more generous means-test, a cap on care costs of £86,000, a new ‘fair cost of care’, and the ability for those who currently arrange and pay for their own care to request their local authority arrange care on their behalf – and access council fee rates – by implementing Section 18(3) of the Care Act 2014.
In response to a recent consultation on the reforms, the government (see here) has today announced it is phasing the implementation of 18(3) of the Care Act. Instead of all self-funders currently in residential care being able to approach their local authority from October 2023 to request the local authority to arrange care on their behalf, only people entering care after October 2023 will be able to do so for the first 18 months. Those already in residential care will not be able to do so until April 2025 under current plans.
In March, the County Councils Network (CCN) and LaingBuisson released research showing that unless the government provided more funding to councils to pay a new ‘fair cost of care’, the full implementation of Section 18(3) from October 2023 could see care providers across England face lost revenues amounting to £560m a year. The report concluded losses on this scale could cause a severe sustainability risk to care markets, with widespread provider failure, across the country.
The report calculated that an extra £854m a year is needed, at the bare minimum, to make the proposals workable by avoiding large-scale closures and to ensure ongoing investment into the social care sector.
In its response to the consultation in April, CCN specifically recommended the policy mitigation announced today in the absence of a full delay to the implementation of 18(3), alongside significantly more funding to implement a fair cost of care.
Below, the County Councils Network responds to today’s announcement.
Cllr Martin Tett, Adult Social Care Spokesperson for County Councils Network, said:
“The announcement today of a phasing to the implementation of Section 18(3) of the Care Act 2014 responds directly to the advocacy by the County Councils Network (CCN) and our research with LaingBuisson. This work showed that a full implementation of this new duty to arrange care on before of self-funders from October 2023 could cause major financial risks for both councils and care providers.
“CCN welcomes the government acting on our recommendation to, at the very least, implement section 18(3) only for new individuals entering the care system from October 2023. However, while this will help reduce the funding shortfall and better manage immediate demand, CCN still remain very concerned that funding provided to move towards a fair cost of care will be insufficient to off-set providers’ financial losses from Section 18(3), impacting on their sustainability.
“Concerns on funding and implementation timescales of social care charging reforms, however, are not limited to the impact of Section 18(3). CCN’s report with Newton demonstrated that both the extended means test and cap are underfunded and create significant workforce challenges. It is vital the government re-examines both the quantum and distribution of resources for these reforms to local government so county local authorities do not face significant unfunded burdens and considers potentially phasing other elements of the reforms package so councils have more time to transition and prepare.”