But now that plans to introduce such a cap have been scrapped and the social care consultation is rumoured to have been delayed until next summer, it seems that the government has followed previous administrations and kicked social care funding into the long grass.
Such a decision is worrying and flies in the face of public opinion. A cap on care costs will increase the fairness of social care, so it’s risky to turn our backs on this idea without an alternative plan in place. There are too many vulnerable older people at risk.
Following an election campaign full of confusing messages about social care, Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of care and housing for older people, conducted a public poll to gather insight into people’s understanding. Our research found that 70% of British adults believe there should be a cap on social care costs, while almost half believe that social care – including dementia care – should always be paid for by the state.
The question of how we fund social care remains unanswered, and the most recent suggestions fail to get to the crux of the issue.
Jackie Doyle-Price, the social care minister, suggested that older people should sell their homes to fund their care. But this doesn’t take the full picture into account. There is a perception that all or most older people are well-off and own their own home – this isn’t the case. For those older people who are home owners and are, to quote the minister, “sitting in homes too big for their needs”, we know that two thirds would like to downsize but can’t due to a lack of suitable options.
Whichever direction the future of social care funding is heading, and whether a cap is introduced or not, the government must be open and honest about how social care will be paid for so that everyone can plan for the best possible life in older age. At present, this is far from the case.
More than a fifth of people wrongly believe the state pays entirely for care needs in later life, and more than half underestimate social care costs by up to 20%. Considering these misconceptions, it’s no wonder that just 14% of us are currently saving for our care in later life.
We’re approaching a perfect storm where the future of social care funding is unclear, the population is getting older, and most of us are unprepared for the future. We need a transparent and sustainable long-term strategy that integrates social care, health and housing. Recognising, and acting on this, is our only option.
The government has been accused of “sending out mixed messages” on independent living, after it emerged that it wants to charge VAT on the payroll services provided to disabled people who receive direct payments for their social care.
Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) is having to take HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to the first-tier tribunal to fight off its attempt to force it to charge disabled service-users 20 per cent VAT on top of their monthly fee for using its popular payroll service.
The tribunal case is due to be heard in Manchester in early December.
Other disabled people’s organisations are also challenging the HMRC VAT demand on their own payroll services, but CCIL’s will be the first to be heard at tribunal.
CCIL insists that its payroll service – which is used by nearly 3,000 disabled people across the north-west of England who use direct payments to employ personal assistants – should not be subject to VAT under HMRC’s “welfare” exemption.
It has been trying to persuade HMRC to withdraw its claim for more than four years, but the government refused even to take the dispute to a mediation service.
Tom Hendrie, CCIL’s head of policy and communications, said the imposition of VAT on payroll services was “absolutely not right”, but he said HMRC had refused to see it as qualifying for an exemption and had “really dug their heels in about it”
With a clampdown on PIP and related benefits, students such as Lauren Hall are struggling to finish their degrees For three years, Lauren Hall, a final year undergraduate studying French and German at Jesus College, Oxford, has relied on disability benefits to help her through her degree. Hall, 23, is on the autistic spectrum and has coordination problems, anxiety, and fatigue from her medication. She struggles to work long hours, or cook and shop for herself. Her personal independence payment (PIPs), enabled her to buy pre-made food – but after she was reassessed last June, her benefits were stopped. When she asked the Department for Work and Pensions to reconsider, Hall says the fact she was at university was used as evidence she didn’t need the benefit. “They stated that I ‘evidently’ had no issues with socialising or independent living, despite me outlining that going outside entails physical exhaustion,” she says. Hall was already finding it hard to study with her disability –
Some of Sheffield’s high street businesses are about to turnaround Government research that shows disabled people find shopping one of the most difficult experiences in their lives. Going to the cinema, theatre and gigs, going out for a drink or a restaurant are going to get easier.
Disability Sheffield has teamed up with Sheffield City Council and Nimbus to offer a new Access Card for disabled people and a Carers Card to anyone caring for someone in Sheffield.
Andrew Crooks, a wheelchair user from Disability Sheffield, said: “The Access Cards translate people’s disabilities into symbols which show the barriers they might face and the adjustments they might need. This means people are made aware, in a discrete and quick way, about the help they might need – like access to concessionary ticket prices – without having to go into loads of detail.
The process of exiting the European Union (EU) could worsen the social care crisis if the UK government does not protect access to personal assistants (PAs) from EU countries, disabled peers have warned. They told a work and pensions minister that uncertainty over the “Brexit” negotiations with fellow EU members was leading to “terrible uncertainty” among the thousands of disabled people whose PAs are citizens of other EU countries. But peers heard that there was not a single mention of disabled people or disability in the government’s white paper on Brexit. The disabled crossbench peer Baroness Campbell told the Lords debate on the impact of Brexit on disabled people – secured by the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Scott – that she had employed PAs from at least 10 EU countries in the last 25 years. Baroness Campbell told fellow peers that other disabled people who employed PAs had told her that the pool of potential employees was “drying up”, while demand continued to rise, which