Social Care or Smoke and Mirrors?

Much is being made of a proposed government cap on Social Costs.  I hear the figure of £75,000 being banded about and that nice Jeremy Hunt is due to make a speech to Parliament on the subject later today.

This made me think of many things.

A cap on total Social Care costs of £75,000 (if the reports are true).  Sounds quite good the 1st time you hear it.  Maybe Mr Hunt does about us all after all.  And then slowly the reality sinks in.

The £75,000 cap (or whatever other figure they settle on) doesn’t include the Bed ‘n Breakfast element of the Care package.  Or at least this is what I am led to believe.  Board and Lodging costs are added to Care costs and can almost double the bills.  £75,000 has now become £150,000 or thereabouts.

I can’t speak for you dear reader, but even if Mr Hunt’s proposals become reality I couldn’t raise £75,000 to pay for care, let alone £150,000 without selling my house.  Maybe I’m alone in this but the vast majority of my worth is tied up in bricks and mortar.

There are, however, a few bits of good news out there which Mr Hunt isn’t quite so keen to bring to our notice.

If you own your home, it may be counted as capital 12 weeks after you move into a residential care or nursing home on a permanent basis. However, your home won’t be counted as capital if any of the following people still live there:

  • your husband, wife, partner or civil partner
  • a close relative who is 60 or over, or incapacitated
  • a close relative under the age of 16 who you’re legally liable to support
  • your ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-civil partner or ex-partner if they are a lone parent

Your local Trust may choose not to count your home as capital in other circumstances – for example, if your carer lives there.

So far so good, if your other half still lives there you can’t be forced to sell it.  This is indeed good news.

How about putting your house in trust, with Trustees holding the house for the benefit of your children but with you having the right to live there for life? The value of the house cannot be taken into account because it is not yours, you are guaranteed a roof over your head for life, and an inheritance for your children is guaranteed. NB If Social Services prove that the principal reason you made the transfer was to avoid care fees, the transaction can be set aside.

Owning your home as Tenants In Common can also prevent you have having to sell your home if you need to go into long-term care.  The advantage of the latter would enable a partner to leave their share of the property to an alternative beneficiary rather than it automatically falling
to their joint owner and being fully counted in a means test for care. The change in status of
ownership can be effected by either party without consultation.

A useful factsheet giving useful advice on this minefield can be found here.  Please be aware, however, that this is not a one size fits all problem or solution.  You would have to discuss what is best for you with a suitably experienced solicitor.

A cynical person might also think that Mr Hunt was trying to deflect attention away from another insidious part of the ConDem attitude to Social Care; THE HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE ACT.

Crucially and most seriously, it removes the UK government’s obligation to provide universal healthcare in England, something so fundamental it amounts to the abolition of the NHS

Most people remain in the dark about what the HSC Act does because of failure of the mainstream media. As has often been said on Twitter, if the BBC covered economics like it has health, nobody would know there had been a global financial crisis. On the day the Act was passed the strap-line across the bottom of BBC News broadcasts said “Bill which gives power to GPs is passed”. It would be difficult to find a GP who agreed with that.

So, in brief, don’t be taken in a by a smug Hunt.  All does not appear to be as it seems.  I’m not an expert on Care Fees so please don’t take my word as gospel, if you’re interested, google it, find out for yourself, but most importantly DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU, don’t be swallowed up in the smoke and mirrors.


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