This House of Commons Library briefing paper considers the Government’s ongoing review of social care policy, in particular how it is funded by individuals and the public sector in England. The May Government said in March 2017 it would publish a consultative Green Paper on this topic, but in July 2019 the Financial Times reported that the new Prime Minister may decide that a White Paper setting out the Government’s new policies should be published instead. A link to the full report in pdf format can be found at the bottom of this page.
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In the March 2017 Budget, the Conservative Government led by Theresa May said that it would publish a Green Paper on social care, in order to allow a public consultation to be held. This followed its decision in July 2015 to defer the introduction of a cap on lifetime social care charges and a more generous means-test that had been proposed by the “Dilnot Commission” and accepted in principle by the then Coalition Government – these changes have since been postponed indefinitely.
During the subsequent 2017 General Election campaign, the Conservative Party made a manifesto commitment to introduce a social care Green Paper and also made a number of pledges regarding how individuals pay for their social care.
The publication of a social care Green Paper has been delayed several times: it was originally due to published in “summer 2017”. The latest position, stated in September 2019, is that it will be published “in due course”.
The original rationale for a Green Paper was to explore the issue of how social care is funded by recipients, and a number of policy ideas have reportedly been under consideration for inclusion in the possible Green Paper including: a more generous means-test; a cap on lifetime social care charges; an insurance and contribution model; a Care ISA; and, tax-free withdrawals from pension pots.
Other topics that the May Government said would be included are integration with health and other services, carers, workforce, and technological developments. Domestic and international comparisons would be also considered as part of the preparation for a Green Paper.
The Financial Times reported in late-July 2019 that the Green Paper had been “ditched” and instead a White Paper would be published in the autumn of 2019.
During the hiatus between the announcement of a Green Paper and its (possible) publication, a number of bodies have published their own ideas for social care funding. It has been noted that there is a “consensus growing” among them towards free personal care.
At its September 2019 conference, the Labour Party announced it would introduce free personal care for older people if it came to power.
Social care is a devolved matter. This note relates to England only.
A list of other Library briefings on adult social care can be found at the end of this note.