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The ’Dilnot social care cap’: making sure it delivers for older people

Earlier this year the Government announced how, in broad terms, it intended to implement the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission for a social care capi. Along with many other organisations that work with and for older people, Age UK warmly welcomed the Government’s decision to act on the Dilnot proposalsii, while expressing disappointment that the level of the cap was set at a less generous level than the Commission had recommended.

A lot of work was always going to be needed to translate the Dilnot Commission’s policy recommendations successfully into practice. That work got seriously underway soon after the Government’s announcement, led by the Department of Health, and Age UK is very pleased to be represented on a number of the working groups the Department has established to help decide how best to organise and run the new system. We want to do everything we can to ensure that older people get the greatest possible benefit from this important reform.

The Dilnot cap is due to come into force in just under three years’ time – in April 2016. This sounds a long way off but it is widely agreed that there is a lot to do between now and then, if the new system is to be a success, right from the start, as must be our shared aim.

At this stage some of the important details concerning the cap remain unknown, in part because the Government has yet to take some important decisions, but also because it is still relatively early days in working out what is likely to happen when the approach the Government agreed in broad terms is put into practice in earnest.
This paper sets out Age UK’s best assessment at this stage of what the new system may look like when it comes into force in 2016, particularly from the perspective of older people and their families. It does this by looking at the impact of the new system on a fictitious older person who develops a need for social care in later life – ‘Mrs A’ - compared to what happens now.

We hope this paper will provide some useful preliminary information about the new system for paying for social care, for older people and their families and for the many different organisations with an interest in how it will operate. We also think our analysis raises some important issues that need to be considered and responded to over the next few months, if the Dilnot social care cap is to be as successful and effective when it comes into effect in 2016 as Age UK wants it to be.