The new social care cap: how does it work, and how much will I pay?

After years not addressing the issue, the government has finally moved to implement new rules for the funding of social care.

While the government faced a significant rebellion from its own MPs, the measures passed Parliament on 23 November, making them all but inevitable. The new rules will see a cap of £86,000 for anyone in England to pay for care in their lifetime. This means that no one will ever have to pay more than £86,000 towards the cost of their own care.

The upper capital limit – which determines eligibility for care support – will also rise. It is currently set at £23,250 but will increase to £100,000 under the government’s plans. This means anyone with personal wealth and assets worth less than £100,000 will be eligible to receive additional financial support and will never pay more than 20% of these assets per year.

Anyone who has more than £100,000 in assets will receive no financial support from their local council.

The lower capital limit – which is the threshold below which people will not have to pay anything – will increase from £14,250 to £20,000. However, if someone is earning an income of some sort, such as from a pension or other investments, they may have to draw upon this to pay some costs.

The new rules will be enforced from October 2023, so for now the existing system remains in place and any contributions made before then won’t count towards the cap. In terms of what is covered under ‘care costs’ – it is anything relating to the everyday needs of someone who is unable to perform basic tasks for themselves, such as cooking, washing and dressing. It does not include day to day living costs such as buying food or bills. In the case that someone is no longer able to live independently and has to move to a care home, this would be covered by the new caps and allowances.

There are some further complexities to the new rules too. Only savings and income contributions towards care costs count towards the £86,000 cap. Any contributions from the local council or other financial assistance won’t.

The plans also don’t protect people from having to sell their house to pay for care. However, anyone who faces this situation can apply to delay the sale of their home until their death – when the bill for the care would come due and leave family members to settle the estate.