At last, a government offer to stop pensioners having to sell their homes to pay for care.
For many, today’s announcement is an historic moment. Despite bitter political wrangling (remember 2010’s death tax debate?), we have witnessed the emergence of a consensus, not only among the assortment of organisations which make up the care ‘sector’, but also among politicians of all different stripes and hues.
As a result, any one individual’s care costs will be capped at £75,000 and, simultaneously, the threshold under which capital may be considered exempt is to be raised by £100,000. Who could not be overjoyed at such an outcome?
But critics are already pouncing on the fact that a £75,000 cap may be too high to help those elderly facing ‘catastrophic’ care costs (Dilnot initially proposed £35,000). Nevertheless, those concerns must not distract us from the significance of what is being proposed here: fundamentally, the transformation of a social care system means-tested since 1948 into one which is universal. A safety-net for the poorest pensioners is being recast as a universal entitlement programme for the wealthiest.