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Care Costs

Volume 600: debated on Tuesday 13 October 2015

We have introduced primary legislation and consulted on draft regulations to introduce the care cap. Following the decision to delay implementation until April 2020, we will use the additional time to improve the policy in the light of feedback from stakeholders.

Let me first declare an interest as a vice-president of the Local Government Association.

May I ask what assistance the Department is offering local authorities which are currently cash-strapped so that they can implement new minimum wage regulation, which is very welcome, in order to provide first-class social care?

It is not possible for me to talk about what may emerge from the spending round and settlement, but I can say to the hon. Lady that local authorities were given extra finance to implement the Care Act 2014. Some £5.3 billion is available to local authorities to work through the new integrated social care and NHS budget. So we are very conscious of the pressures on local authorities, which need the resources to provide the social care we all expect.

The coalition Government agreed a policy of a cap on care costs, and the Conservative manifesto in May said that no one would have to sell their homes to pay for care. Some £100 million has been wasted on this delay, which has betrayed our older people and has simply ducked one of the biggest crises facing this country. Will the Minister and the Department now apologise?

There was a consultation on the coalition proposals, which began at the beginning of this year and ran through the election period. The consultation included a very strong representation from the Local Government Association, which said that it did not want to implement the care cap now and wanted extra time. Therefore, the decision has been taken not to cancel, but to delay. It is of course a change from the position we set out. I fully accept that, but we listened to stakeholders and we are now going to use the extra time, at the request of the LGA and others, to find a way through to implement the policy and to use the time for extra financial products.