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Department of Health consults on cap on care costs plus new appeals system

The Department of Health has launched a consultation on the cap on care costs that will come into force in April 2016.

The consultation, which runs until 30 March 2015 and can be viewed here, includes proposals on a new system of appeals.

In relation to funding reform, it covers:

  • The background to funding reform;
  • Cap on care costs: Overview;
  • Measuring what counts towards the cap;
  • Care Accounts;
  • Cap on care costs for working age adults;
  • Daily living costs;
  • First party top-up payments;
  • Extension to means-tested support.

In relation to draft guidance, it covers:

  • Cap on care costs;
  • Independent personal budgets;
  • Care Accounts;
  • Summary of anticipated consequential amendments to the care and support statutory guidance issued in October 2014 to reflect 2016 funding reforms;
  • A glossary of Terms: Funding Reform.

The consultation also sets out proposals for handling appeals, which it described as being at "an earlier stage of development" as they were introduced to the Act as a result of debates as the legislation passed through Parliament. There are no draft regulations or guidance at this stage accordingly.

The Department of Health said the new appeals system would sit alongside the current means of redress.

“This includes the complaints system and the option of going to the Local Government Ombudsman,” the paper added. “The proposals are underpinned by the principles of early resolution, good communication, fairness, equality, independence, accessibility and proportionality.”

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said the cap on care costs would put “the risk and fear of catastrophic care costs firmly where they belong: in the confines of history”.

He added: “The cap protects working age and retired adults from care costs rising above £72,000. We want everyone to feel prepared for old age and have the peace of mind that they are protected from care costs. That’s why we are transforming the way we pay for care in this country, capping costs for the first time and providing financial help to more people.

“Our changes will make care and support fairer by giving younger people with care needs financial protection for the rest of their lives. And we are making the system fairer for people of working age by enabling them to keep more of their income after charges."

On the new appeals process, Lamb said: “Whilst we expect councils to assess constituents fairly, we also want those affected to be able to challenge decisions they feel do not properly reflect their circumstances. We need a clear, transparent and accessible appeals process.”

The minister continued: “The common thread running through all our Care Act activity is the focus on the individual. From the Dilnot Commission on Funding of Care and Support, through this consultation and beyond, this is about maximising support and eliminating worry for our citizens. After a life time of hard work, why should anyone’s twilight years be blighted by financial worry – not just for them, but their family, friends and carers too?”

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