Sir Andrew Dilnot said the delay “seems like a breach of promise for some of the most vulnerable people in our society”.
The architect of the original plans for a social cap said he was “astonished” by the “really disturbing and deeply regrettable” decision to postpone long-awaited reforms.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, the economist whose plan would limit the amount a person in England would have to pay for welfare, said the delay “seems like a breach of promise for some of the most vulnerable people in our society”.
Abandoning this group now “feels like a really, really distressing and deeply regrettable act” while hundreds of thousands of people working in the NHS and social care will also be affected, he said.
The Tory pledge to cap ‘catastrophic’ care costs has been delayed by two years, despite providing additional funding to provide more support to older people, Jeremy Hunt confirmed in his autumn statement.
He said the postponement of “key” reforms of an extension of means testing and a new cost cap scheme would allow the Government to increase funding for the social care sector by up to £2.8bn next year and £4.7bn the following year to increase.
An estimated 200,000 more care packages can be delivered, according to Mr Hunt, who described the investment as “the largest increase in funding under any government of any stripe in history”.
However, health experts said the decision to postpone the proposed £86,000 cap under current plans will mean many thousands of families are missed out and face the possibility of losing their homes to pay for their care.
Caroline Abrahams, Director of Charities at Age UK, said: “We regret the decision to postpone the catastrophic care cost cap by two years because Prime Minister Boris Johnson was firmly committed to introducing it in 2023 and raised public expectations so high we think it is right that this government perseveres.
“While the currently proposed cap is significantly less generous than we wanted, it is a start and something to build on. A delay of another two years raises serious questions about whether it will ever be introduced at all.”
The Chancellor praised the “heroic” work of caring for children, the elderly and the disabled during the Corona pandemic. But he said an aging population was putting massive pressure on services and he had heard “very real concerns” from councils about their ability to implement key reforms promised by Mr Johnson’s government.
Mr Hunt said he would also allocate an additional £1bn in social care grants next year and £1.7bn the following year to Home.
He said: “Combined with savings from the delayed Dilnot reforms and more flexibility in council tax, this means an increase in funds available for the social care sector by up to £2.8 billion next year and £4.7 billion a year after that – that’s a big increase. But how we care for our most vulnerable citizens is not just a practical issue, it also speaks to our values as a society.
“So today’s decision will allow the social care system to provide an estimated 200,000 more care packages over the next two years — the largest increase in funding under any government of any stripe in history.”
Ms Abrahams welcomed the additional social care resources, saying they were “much needed”. She said: “But until the technical details have been looked at, we reserve our judgment on how much practical difference they will actually make for the elderly and disabled, particularly when the impact of the rise in the national living wage is factored in – brilliant it is that nurses get paid more because they have richly earned it.”
The government had said it was likely to use council tax increases to increase financial support for social care, but Ms Abrahams said a national approach was needed instead.
“The result is that council tax increases tend to create winners and losers, with poorer areas most likely left behind. Nothing could show better that the government urgently needs to explore a much broader range of funded reforms to help the elderly and disabled and their unpaid carers, wherever they live,” she said.