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This Note gives an overview of recent developments in relation to the cap on care costs and an overview of stakeholder views on the quality and viability of the residential care sector in light of the pressures facing the sector. This includes information on the following:

  • the most recent report from the Care Quality Commission;
  • questions in Parliament on the issue of social care, together with government responses;
  • measures affecting the residential care sector announced in the spending review and autumn statement; and
  • a recent report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on the responsibilities for social care given to local authorities under the Care Act 2014.

The Care Act 2014 contained provisions relating to adult care and support and health. Under this legislation, the Coalition Government had planned for the provisions relating to the means-test and the cap limiting the amount an individual had to contribute to the cost of their social care during their lifetime to be introduced in April 2016.

In July 2015, following representations from stakeholders in the social care sector, the Conservative Government postponed the introduction of these measures until April 2020. Some stakeholders, for example the Local Government Association, welcomed the postponement of the introduction of the cap on care costs; whereas some groups representing users, such as the Alzheimer’s Society, criticised the move.

Overview of the Sector in Numbers

The Demos Commission on Residential Care has estimated that over 450,000 older and working-age disabled people live in residential care settings. The Department of Health has estimated that there are 154,000 self-funders (who pay for their care) in residential care.

Regarding older people, in August 2014 the Office for National Statistics estimated from census data that more than a quarter of a million (291,000) people aged 65 and over were living in care homes in England and Wales in 2011, representing 3.2 percent of the total population at this age.

In terms of the number of residential care institutions, the Care Quality Commission regulates and inspects more than 17,000 care homes that offer accommodation and personal care for people who may need help to look after themselves.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre, an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department of Health, has estimated from data supplied by Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities (CASSRs) that 86,000 people accessed long-term nursing support and 194,000 people accessed residential support provided by such bodies between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015.

In addition, the Government has estimated that up to 900,000 individuals work in the care sector as a whole.

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