Yesterday the Conservative party announced their manifesto. If they win the election on 8th June, their to-do list includes a reform of social care funding.
Reform is much needed, as various studies point to a funding gap of around £3 billion by 2020 or more. The closure of the Independent Living Fund, the increase in the Living Wage, and the failure to increase funding in line with population growth are putting social care departments under extreme pressure.
The Conservatives have pledged to squeeze more money from homeowners to pay for social care. If your assets, including your house, add up to more than £100,000, then you will be required to pay for your social care. Some of this payment can be deferred, so that when your house is sold after your death the money offsets your social care bill.
However, the Conservative manifesto references older people, but does not discuss potential impacts of this policy idea on working age disabled people. There are more than an estimated 3 million disabled people in work, and a number of these people receive social care. A significant number of these people will also have a mortgage, and are wondering what this policy means for them.
Does it mean that you will not be responsible for paying for your care until your mortgage is paid, and the house becomes “yours”?
Does it mean that you will be responsible for paying for your care once your assets + the amount of your mortgage paid exceeds £100,000?
If the house is in the name of a spouse or family member, would this be counted in?
These are questions we intend to ask after the election in the event of a Conservative victory. If you would like us to pass on your questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
What we do know is that this is unlikely to solve the social care funding shortfall. By tying social care pressures to the capricious rises and falls of the housing market, they are deepening a local authority’s financial risk. House prices are currently going through a “soft patch”, with the shortage of properties available preventing falling house prices. However, with the Conservative manifesto promising to build 1.5 million new homes by the end of 2022, it seems likely that house prices will fall.
There’s only one thing that’s going to solve the social care funding shortfall, and that’s investment by central government at a level which meets the needs of the population.
By Fleur Perry