Rebecca Evans, Minister for Social Services and Public Health
I am pleased to inform Members that as of today, the amount of capital a person in residential care can retain without having to use this to pay for their care has increased from £24,000 to £30,000. This will benefit people in care immediately, and also people who move into care in future, enabling them to keep more of their money to use as they wish.
Also from today, compensation payments received by armed forces veterans in the form of a War Disablement Pension will be disregarded in full in financial assessments when charging for social care. This will enable veterans to retain the full value of their pensions to use as they wish.
These changes are a positive step in delivering for the people of Wales two of our key commitments set out in our five year plan, “Taking Wales Forward”.
The first commitment was to increase the capital limit used by local authorities who charge for residential care, from £24,000 to £50,000. This limit determines whether a person pays the full cost of their residential care, or receives financial support towards this cost from their local authority. There are up to 4,000 care home residents who pay the full cost of their care, with up to a 1,000 of these potentially benefitting from an increase in the capital limit to £50,000, depending upon the value of the capital they hold.
Following engagement with sector stakeholders I announced last year that we would introduce this increase in a phased approach, commencing this financial year by uplifting the limit to £30,000. This will make Wales’ capital limit the highest in the UK. Funding of £4.5 million has been made available to local government through the 2017-18 settlement to support implementation of this increase.
The second commitment was to introduce a full disregard of a War Disablement Pension (WDP) in financial assessments when charging for social care. At present a disregard of £25 per week applies. This change will ensure veterans in receipt of this pension are no longer required to use them to pay towards the cost of their care. There are around 6,500 WDP recipients in Wales, an estimated 150 of whom are currently receiving social care. Funding of £0.300 million has also been made available to local government through this year’s settlement to support implementation of this change.
I laid amending regulations to effect both changes before the National Assembly in February. This was with an accompanying revised code of practice which local authorities must follow when charging for social care. These become effective today.
Further engagement with stakeholders will take place during the coming months to help inform our considerations on further uplifts to the capital limit. This is so as to fully deliver on our commitment of providing a fairer deal for people in residential care in Wales, by enabling them to retain up to £50,000 of their hard earned capital.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep Members informed. Should Members wish me to make a further statement, or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns, I would be happy to do so.