The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the Tory UK Government for delaying a cap on care costs secured by former Lib Dem Care Minister Norman Lamb, following an announcement by the Welsh Government that no decision can be made about reform of arrangements for paying for social care and support in Wales.
The cap on liability for care costs, to be set at £72,000 for those in England of state pension age or over, was led by Norman Lamb MP and scheduled to be introduced next April under the Care Act 2014. However, immediately after the election the Conservatives effectively abandoned plans, delaying implementation until 2020. As a result, the Welsh Minister has announced that no decision can be made over reforms to the system in Wales.
The England care cap was to be met largely by freezing the inheritance tax threshold at £325,000, which George Osborne has now announced he will raise to £500,000.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams AM said:
“Liberal Democrats in government in Westminster were pivotal in ensuring that people could have certainty over their care costs. At present, elderly people can only get free care if they have less than £23,250 worth of assets, which forces around 40,000 people a year to sell their home to pay for care.
“In government we led the way to introduce a £72,000 cap on care costs, so that people no longer live in fear of losing nearly everything they own to pay for care, which causes huge stress and worry and puts a heavy burden on families and carers.
“Sadly the decision of the Conservative party to delay these plans puts pensioners in Wales in limbo, as the Welsh Government refuses to make a decision until there is progress over the border. The current care cap in Wales was introduced in 2010 as a stop-gap measure, but five years on we are no clearer on the long-term vision of this Welsh Labour Government.
“With the number of people in Wales aged 65 and over projected to double by 2035, there is no time to waste on this important issue. Crippling care costs need addressing urgently and the Tories’ u-turn is a betrayal of people at their most weak and most frail. The distress and heartbreak that people feel when a loved one is in care, is being exacerbated by the fear of how to pay for it. We must not allow this to continue.”