The Treasury Committee of MPs has taken the government to task for failing to provide detailed evidence on how people across the country are likely to be affected by the latest social care reforms.
MPs this week narrowly voted through a controversial clause on social care costing that means lifetime care costs will be capped at £86,000 from October 2023 – a figure that does not include any state support.
Committee chair Mel Stride has expressed “real concerns” about the impact of the changes, after the government was unable to produce a full impact assessment or a regional and distributional analysis.
In a letter asking the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, for the evidence last week, Stride said: “The distributional analysis should consider the impact by household and individual income and wealth. Any information on the impact by region would also be welcome.”
He also asked for the estimated number of people expected to have to sell their house to fund their care, and how many households were at risk of losing their housing wealth because of the changes.
In a response sent shortly before the vote on Monday, health secretary Sajid Javid said the full impact assessment for the proposals would be published “early in the new year”.
“We are unable to provide information at a regional or individual level, as the funding at local authority level has not yet been agreed,” he said.
Javid insisted that “nobody will be worse off” under the changes than under the current system. The plans are “just as good” as plans proposed in 2015 for care recipients with less than £100,000 of assets with average-length care journeys, and better for people in domiciliary care or whose partners still live in their home, he said.
The health secretary also directed Stride to an impact assessment for the 2015 proposals.
In a statement yesterday, Stride said it was “disappointing” that the response had come so late.
“The letter, which was sent half an hour before parliament was set to vote on the changes last night, does not provide the full assessment requested,” he said.
“I have real concerns about the way these changes have been introduced and the Treasury Committee will continue to keep up the pressure on the government to publish a full impact assessment as soon as possible.”
'Necessary, fair and responsible'
Monday’s vote was the latest step in the government’s efforts to reform the way social care is funded, following Boris Johnson’s promise to "fix the crisis in social care" when he became prime minister in 2019.
In September, the prime minister said lifetime care costs for adults would be capped at £86,000.
Under the original proposals, this figure would have included any means-tested support provided by local authorities – but the latest amendment means this will not count and the £86,000 cap only counts the money people pay out of their own pockets towards their care.
Under the reforms, everyone with assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will qualify for means-tested local government support. People with assets worth less than £20,000 will not have to pay anything towards their social care.
Ahead of the vote, the prime minister’s spokesperson said the approach was “necessary, fair and responsible”.
“[The policy] is about striking the right balance in terms of personal and public contributions towards the cost of care,” they said.
“Our approach provides a limit to the cost of care for everyone in the adult social care system for the first time. It's a significant increase in state support.”
MPs voted by 272 to 246, a majority of 26, to add the proposal to the health and care bill.