Social care: Wales compared to England

Campaigning is gradually getting back into gear after the tragic events in Manchester.

The national mood will be affected by the terrorist attacks and this will be reflected in a more subdued tone in electioneering, although it may not last long.

Security will inevitably emerge as a prominent subject when it had been a low-level issue before the bombing.

Labour had a sense of momentum, particularly in relation to social care, which it will want to regain after the break in campaigning.

Many doorstep conversations in the campaign in Wales last weekend revolved around concerns about Conservative plans to pay for the cost of dementia in England.

Ageing population

One Tory candidate told me he had been involved in a number of tricky chats in which he had to remind people of the need to do something about the cost of dealing with an ageing population, and then a follow-up reminder that social care is a devolved issue anyway.

I am told that Labour candidates have been less forthcoming on the clarification of devolution.

Welcome to the melting pot world of general elections in post-devolution Wales in which everything is lumped in, devolved or not.

And the issue of social care is a classic example of the confusion that can exist. Unlike, health and education, the cost of social care has generated little attention at the assembly.

As things stand in Wales, you have to pay for the cost of residential care with your assets, including your house, apart from £30,000 you are allowed to keep.


The Welsh Government is planning to raise that floor to £50,000.

The cost of home care is dealt with separately. It has to be paid for, but there is a cap of £60 a week in Wales.

In England, you are currently allowed to keep £23,000 after paying for the cost of residential care. The cost of your house is taken into account.

The Conservative plan is to allow people to keep £100,000 after their savings and the value of their home is accounted for. For the first time, this would also cover the cost of care at home, and not just residential care.

One particularly controversial element was the decision not to introduce a cap in the Tory manifesto.

The expectation was that party was going to follow the recommendation of a review by the economist Andrew Dilnot, which removed the open-ended cost element with a cap.

That changed on Monday in Wrexham when Theresa May announced that the possibility of a cap would, after all, be included in a consultation after the general election.

Having said all of that, there are implications for Wales in terms of the knock-on to the block grant the Welsh Government receives from Westminster.

And also, politically, if a cap to the cost of social care is introduced in England, then there will be pressure for ministers in Cardiff to do the same in Wales.

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