This House of Commons Library briefing paper considers how the parameters – such as the capital limits – for the social care means-test have changed since 1997.
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In summary, the lower and upper capital limits were increased year-on-year from 2001/02 to 2010/11. Since then, they have been frozen at their 2010/11 levels of £14,250 and £23,250 respectively.
The savings credit disregard for single people and couples aged 65 and over rose from 2003/04 – when it was first introduced alongside Pension Credit – until 2010/11. It has since remained at up to £5.75 a week for single people and up to £8.60 a week for couples.
The Personal Expenses Allowance (PEA) – which is the amount someone in a care home must be allowed to retain of their income each week (after contributing towards the cost of their place when they also receive local authority funding support) – increased every year from 2000/01 to 2015/16, but has not changed since. It remains at £24.90.
The equivalent to the PEA for those in settings other than care homes is the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG). Local authorities were required to set their MIGs at least 25% higher than the equivalent rate of Income Support or Pension Credit (as applicable) until 2016/17. For some people, the buffer has remained at 25% because Income Support has not been uprated since 2015/16. However, for those to whom Pension Credit applies the buffer has fallen to 17% because the MIG rates have not kept pace with increases in Pension Credit rates.
More information on the current social care means-test can be found in the House of Commons Library briefing paper, Social care: paying for care home places and domiciliary care (England).
This note applies to England only.