Social Care Cap: What Boris Johnson Failed To Mention

Boris Johnson proposed a limit on lifetime social care costs on Tuesday, but skipped over some key details about the cap.

Boris Johnson announced no-one in the UK will have to pay more than £86,000 for the care they need from October 2023 – but there are some aspects he failed to mention.

When declaring his proposed overhaul of the social care system on Tuesday, the prime minister appeared to soften the blow of a 1.25 percentage point increase in National Insurance Contributions – money needed to prop up the NHS and social care – by announcing a cap on the total costs a person would have to pay in their lifetime.

Up until the £86,000 cap, those with more than £100,000 in assets will have to pay for all their own care costs. Those with between £20,000 and £100,000 will have their funds partly subsidised by local councils, and those with less than £20,000 will have all costs covered by the government.

Yet, up close, this cap is not all it seems.

Only some costs count towards it

The 33-page government plan did not mention it, but Downing Street confirmed to BBC News that accommodation-related costs of care do not count towards the £86,000 cap.

This means the bills linked to daily living, food and energy bills, as well as physical building, would not be included.

The £86,000 only counts for the physical care an individual receives.

No.10 has not clarified how much people might have to pay for these other essential costs.

Not everyone will even reach the capped amount

Most people would need to be in receipt of care for many years before they reach the capped amount of £86,000.

Once in a care home, approximately 75% of people do not live for longer than three years, meaning the residents would be unlikely to reach the cap in that time.

Care received in your own home will also count towards the cap, but it tends to cost significantly less, meaning recipients would need to pay for it for a much longer period of time before reaching the threshold.

Boris Johnson announcing the social care reforms on Tuesday
Boris Johnson announcing the social care reforms on Tuesday
WPA Pool via Getty Images

The cap will apply only to some

Only those councils deem frail enough to need care and assistance with daily activities, including washing, dressing and eating, will be eligible for social care.

This means only those people will be eligible for the cap.

The BBC claim more than half of the requests for council consideration are turned down, while the County Councils Network believe this is unlikely to change any time soon.

Contributions made before October 2023 won’t be included

Any costs accumulated prior to the cut-off date of October 2023 are not counted towards the cap.

This means people who have been in care for a long period of time could still end up paying more than £86,000 in their lifetime.

Will it actually make a difference?

Although the cap will impact only a small proportion of people, there are worries all of the funds raised by the 1.25 percentage point National Insurance increase – for all working people under 65 – will be sucked into covering the cap cost in general, rather than council testing to see who is eligible for the scheme itself.