Almost four years on from the establishment of the Dilnot Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, the Care Act has finally received Royal Assent and will become law next April. 

The Act introduces some of the most far reaching reforms to social care for a generation.  The challenge now is to make sure that its aspirations are achieved and that it delivers a social care system which works for everyone.

Back in 2010, the Commission was set up to find a solution to the care crisis and create an affordable and sustainable care system.  A year later, the Commission recommended the introduction of a cap on care costs to be set at £35,000, an increase to the means-test threshold, national eligibility criteria and free care and support for anyone who reaches 18 with an eligible care need.  While all of these recommendations have been included in the Care Act, the way they have been introduced means that the original intentions of the Commission have been significantly diluted.

What does this mean for people we support?

Two of the biggest successes are the introduction of free care for anyone who reaches 18 years old with an eligible care need and a new national eligibility threshold.  However, as this threshold is being set at ‘substantial’, some people with less severe care and support needs may lose out altogether.

The cap on care costs has been highly contentious, with the final level being set at £72,000 for people over state pension age.  Recent research from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries found that just 8% of men and 15% of women will benefit from the cap.  The Government has faced criticism from some quarters for not being clear enough about what will count towards the cap – not all care costs will be included.

Although some of the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission have not be introduced as intended, the Care Act does go a long way to modernise the current care system.  As local authorities look towards implementing the Act, it is vital that they have the necessary funding to meet people’s care and support needs and enable them to live full lives.  Alongside the Care and Support Alliance, we will continue to campaign to make sure that care and support remains a political priority in the run up to the next election and beyond.

Rachel Bowen, campaigns officer.