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Government delays reform enabling fairer costs for care home residents

Care home stock (Ian Georgeson/Alamy)
Care home stock (Ian Georgeson/Alamy)

The Government has delayed a key reform aimed at ensuring care home residents pay a fair price for the services they receive.

In plans announced last autumn, the Government said people who pay for their care would be able to ask their council to arrange this at local authority rates, which are generally lower.

This is to end the unfairness where a self-funding care home resident pays more for the same services than a resident whose care is arranged for them by their local authority.

The reform had been originally slated to come in from October 2023, but instead the Government will roll it out in stages over 18 months, Care Minister Gillian Keegan said.

It will initially apply to those who enter residential care after October 2023, with those already in residential care eligible from April 2025 at the latest, or earlier “if the market can sustain full rollout”.

It follows concern from local authorities over the workability of fully implementing the change from October 2023, and the potential impact on those awaiting care and support.

In a written ministerial statement, Ms Keegan said: “This staged approach to introduction will allow individuals funding their own care to benefit from local authorities’ expertise in commissioning as quickly as possible, while allowing local authorities and social care providers to plan for this change and avoid unnecessary disruption to service provision.”

The move will be funded by £1.36 billion between 2022-23 and 2024-25.

The delay does not affect the care cap, which is still set to come in from October 2023.

From this point, nobody will pay more than £86,000 for the personal care they need.

The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, called the delay frustrating.

Chairman Mike Padgham said any candidates for the next prime minister should not bother putting their name forward unless they have a “bold commitment” to reform social care.

He said: “Many warned the Government that there was not enough money available to enable councils to pay a fair price for care, and therefore make the changes fair for those who pay for their own care, and fair to hard-pressed and cash-strapped care providers who currently face great challenges just to survive.

“Now the whole thing is being kicked down the road for 18 months and we are no further forward.

“Unless the Government starts to reform and properly fund social care, we are never going to make any headway in making the system work for the benefit not only of those who are already receiving care but also for the 1.5m people who can’t get the care they need.”