Rebecca Evans Minister for Social Services and Public Health
The First Minister recently set out the Welsh Government’s five year plan “Taking Wales Forward”. This included two key commitments in relation to local authority charging for social care. I am issuing this statement to inform Members how these particular commitments will be delivered.
The first commitment was to increase the capital limit used by local authorities who charge for residential care from £24,000 to £50,000. The capital limit determines whether a person self-funds the full cost of their residential care, or whether they receive financial support towards the cost from their local authority. This increase in the limit enables people in residential care to retain more of their capital to use as they wish. There are up to 4,000 care home residents who pay for the full cost of their care. Increasing the capital limit to £50,000 has the potential to benefit up to 1,000 of these, depending upon the value of the capital they hold.
The second commitment was to introduce a full disregard of the War Disablement Pension (WDP) in financial assessments for charging for social care. Currently a disregard of the first £25 per week of a WDP applies. This change will ensure that armed forces veterans in receipt of these pensions will not be required to use them to pay for the cost of their care. There are around 6,500 recipients of these pensions in Wales, an estimated 150 of whom are currently receiving social care.
To ensure that we take the most appropriate approach to deliver our commitments, we have over recent weeks undertaken preparatory engagement with stakeholder representatives. This has been to ensure that we are fully appraised of the practicalities of their implementation, and of the manner in which stakeholders would like to see them introduced. Alongside this, we commissioned independent research to obtain up-to-date costings for a number of approaches for implementation.
Having considered this evidence, I can confirm the capital limit will increase to £30,000 from next financial year. This is a positive first step in the delivery of our commitment to have a limit of £50,000. It takes account of stakeholders’ views that a phased approach to implementation of this increase was preferable so as to have a measured day-to-day impact on local authorities and care home providers in this first year of implementation. Further increases to the limit towards a £50,000 capital limit will be introduced in future based on the experience of this initial increase. In addition, from the next financial year a full disregard of the WDP will be introduced in all local authority financial assessments for charging for social care so as to deliver this commitment in full. Stakeholders saw no issue which prevented this change from being introduced in full from this time.
To support these changes it is our intention for the costs associated with them to be addressed through the draft budget for 2017-18, to be published shortly. These costs are those identified in the independent research referred to above. Members will wish to note that a copy of that research will shortly be available on the paying for care section of the Welsh Government’s website.
Officials will now undertake more detailed engagement with stakeholders so as to frame the amending regulations required under our Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 to effect these changes from April next year.