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Will Carers benefit from Jeremy Hunt's new social care announcement?

Politicians have long been mindful of the time bomb of care costs as the population of the old and very old continues to rise. Stories of catastrophic costs and desperate attempts to save the amily home from being sold off to pay the bills do not play well in politics. So it is no surprise that the first big attempt to get to grips with this issue would focus on limiting individual liability for care costs through something like the cap now being proposed.

 This is good news for many with caring responsibilities. One in ten people will have care costs that exceed £100,000 and the problem for both elderly people and their carers is that no-one knows in advance who is going to face these bills. For carers, the knowledge that there is an ultimate limit on what has to be paid before all of the family inheritance is consumed can only help in reducing stress and family tensions. And having a clear picture of how much they may have to pay for care will help carers support their elderly relatives with planning for future eventualities.

 For others with more modest incomes and savings the more generous asset allowance for means-tested care will also provide welcome relief for carers. The pressure to find the money to pay for care or make do with what friends and relatives can offer inevitably puts a great strain on family carers to step in to fill the gap. Anything that alleviates this by providing better access to state funded care can only be a good thing.

The problem is that if you are not one of the frail rich who will live long enough to benefit from the £72,000 cap and you are not assessed as having serious or critical care needs, you probably won’t benefit at all from these new proposals. Local authorities are withdrawing from providing care for those with only low or moderate care needs. Family members, friends and neighbours will struggle on trying to support people with low level needs – as dressing, washing and preparing food are apparently now classified. Let’s hope that today’s tales of old ladies selling off the treasured family home are not replaced by tomorrow’s horror stories of vulnerable old people left to fend for themselves, with all the consequences that that entails.