Social care is turning out to be a big issue in the current election campaign. So what are the main parties’ promises on social care and caring?
Conservatives’ manifesto plans:
The Conservatives’ social care plans have come in for a huge amount of publicity, for two reasons – firstly, because the value of your home will be taken into account when you need care in your own home and because of the U turn which resulted in a cap on care costs being added to the plans. It’s important to stress that everything outlined below will be consulted on.
- Paying for care: The value of your home will be taken into account when working out who should pay for care in your home, as well as for care in a nursing or residential home. Currently your home is not taken into account when you are assessed for care in your home, however, your home’s value IS taken into account if you need to go into a care home.
- SAVVY TIP: There are some exceptions, such as if your wife, husband, civil partner or partner lives in the home (or some other relatives, depending on their situation). Under the Conservatives’ plans, the value of your home, if it’s jointly owned with, say, your husband, wife, civil partner or partner, could be taken into account even if your spouse or partner still lives there. This has been confirmed as being part of the consultation, by the Conservative Party press office.
- A £100,000 means test: You will be able to keep £100,000 of the value of your assets (including your home). Currently the threshold is around £23,250 (it varies around the UK).
- Deferring care costs: You will be able to put off paying for your care in your home, until you die. Currently you can only do this if you are going into a care home.
- Time off for caring: Relatives will have the right to ask for up to a year off from work to care for a family member.
You can read more about the Conservatives’ plans for social care in my article called How will the Conservatives’ plans for social care work? What is the dementia tax?
Labour’s manifesto plans:
Labour’s main idea is to establish a National Care Service and put a cap on the maximum amount people will have to pay for care.
- Increased spending on social care: It will increase spending on social care by £8 billion over the next five years, including an extra £1 billion in the current year.
- National Care Service: Labour will set up a National Care Service, similar to the National Health Service.
- Increase Carer’s Allowance: Carer’s Allowance would be increased so it’s the same rate as Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is currently £73.10 a week. Carer’s Allowance is currently £62.70 a week
- Care visits:Home visits by care staff that only last for 15 minutes will be ended.
- Paying for care: There would be a cap on the maximum amount anyone would pay for their care in their lifetime. The cap would be consulted on – including how to pay for it.
Liberal Democrats’ manifesto plans:
The big idea in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto is for a 1p rise in all rates of income tax to pay for care. They will also introduce a cap on the amount you have to pay for your own care. Here are the points from their manifesto:
- Care costs cap: Introduce a cap on the amount you will have to pay for care.
- Carer’s Allowance: Raise the amount people can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £110 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours’ care each week needed to qualify.
- Carer’s Passport Scheme: The NHS will be given a legal duty to identify carers and develop a Carer’s Passport scheme to tell them about their rights relating to the NHS.
- Free end of life social care: Move to free end of life social care, when people spend their last days in a hospice or at home.
UKIP’s manifesto plans
UKIP says it will pay an extra £2 billion a year by the end of the parliament to social care. It will also increase funding for dementia care. The £2 billion a year will come from cutting the foreign aid budget.
- Establish a Department for Health and Care: This will aim to create a sustainably funded care system within the NHS.
- Continue to fund Attendance Allowance: Attendance Allowance is a benefit that’s paid to people aged 65 or over who need help with things like taking medication, getting up or eating regularly. It is not means tested and you do not need to get this help from a qualified doctor or nurse. You can read more about Attendance Allowance in my article called Understanding state benefits such as Attendance Allowance.
- Ban zero hours contracts for NHS workers: Anyone working for the NHS, or for a company subcontracted to the NHS, won’t be able to be employed on zero hours contracts. Workers will also have to be paid travelling time between appointments to make sure they are not paid less than the minimum wage.
- Care at home: People will be able to stay in their own home unless or until they cannot – or unless they cannot make that choice.
- Meals on wheels and daycare services: Protect meals on wheels, lunch club and daycare services.
- NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding: Abolish the annual assessment for continuing healthcare funding of degenerative, terminal illnesses.
- Dignity Code: Introduce a legally binding code to improve the standard of care for people in hospital, care homes or in their own homes.
- Help for carers: Help carers by sharing information about support and access to benefits across all public services.
Scottish National Party’s manifesto plans:
The SNP pledge to increase the budget of NHS Scotland to £2 billion, increase health and social care by an additional £1.7 billion and increase Carer’s Allowance to the level of Job Seekers Allowance.
- Invest in NHS Scotland: Increase the budget of NHS Scotland by £2 billion by the end of the current Scottish Parliament.
- Health and social care: An additional £1.7 billion will be invested in Scotland’s health and social care partnerships.
- Carer’s Allowance: Increase Carer’s Allowance to the level of Job Seeker’s Allowance.
Plaid Cymru’s manifesto plans:
Plaid Cymru’s manifesto is quite light on social care and caring, however they do pledge to introduce a social care rescue plan, recruit more doctors and nurses and support veterans.
- Social care: Introduce a social care rescue plan, which will help people to live independently and increase the role of community hospitals.
- Veteran support: Veterans will receive excellent health care, including mental health care, and adequate housing.
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