What today’s announcement of a £75k cap on the costs of social care does is allow the coalition government to say at the next election that it has introduced an historic change in social care funding that no government has previously been able to do.
Politically, that’s a substantial achievement.
Of course, there are significant questions and details that arise from a £75k level of the cap (or £61k in today’s prices, since the £75k figure is at 2017 prices) and associated changes. People like Claudia Wood and Marc Bush are highlighting what these questions are.
But there is a principle and a precedent that we should today celebrate.
The principle is that a cap has been placed on how much someone has to pay for social care. That is, the government has (finally) drawn a line beyond which individuals won’t have to go to meet care costs during their lifetime. (That this is being paid for by a freeze in inheritance tax allowance is an admittedly very tasty cherry on top.)
The precedent is that of top-up tuition fees. Once the principle of top-up tuition fees of up £3,000 a year was introduced in 2003, the question then became one of where the line is drawn. That line was changed to £9,000 top-up tuition fees last year, and will probably change again in the future.
In the context of the social care cap, I am hopeful the precedent will work the other way: that once government sees in practice what the effect of the costs cap is it can adjust the level accordingly.
The “win” today is therefore the principle that the £75k has been introduced; the precedent of top-up tuition fees is a reason for optimism.