The government's plan to exclude means-tested council support payments from a new £86,000 lifetime limit on care costs could be amended in the House of Lords and sent back to the Commons.

Many influential peers have said the Lords would scrutinise the government’s social care reform plans very carefully and could provide constructive amendments to improve what is on the table at the moment.

The new amendment, which was narrowly voted through in the House of Commons on Monday night, would see poorer households bear the brunt of the new social care cap.

From October 2023, the government will introduce a new £86,000 cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care over their lifetime.

In addition, the upper capital limit (UCL), the point at which people become eligible to receive some financial support from their local authority, will rise to £100,000 from the current £23,250.

Those with assets of less than £20,000 will not have to pay anything from these towards care fees.

People whose home, savings or investments create assets worth over £100,000 will not get any financial help from the council and those with assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will qualify for council help, but will have to pay £86,000 out of their own pocket to reach the cap.

The cap will not cover the daily living costs (DLCs) for people in care homes, and people will remain responsible for their daily living costs throughout their care journey, including after they reach the cap.

Jeremy Hunt, chair of the Health and Select Committee and former Health Secretary, voted against the amendment. He told the BBC that the wider plans for social care were a "step in the right direction" and "an improvement on what we have today".

But he said its plans for calculating the cap were a "big disappointment" and "not as generous as people like me wanted".

Impact on people with dementia

Only one in five people with dementia are estimated to ever reach the proposed cap limit, which leaves the cap on care costs "worryingly high", according to the Alzheimer's Society.

James White, Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said that while they had welcomed the government’s decision to cure the care system after decades of neglect, the devil’s in the detail with the exclusion of major costs hitting the less well off.

He added: "Any progress here feels like two steps forwards, one step back – social care is sadly still an afterthought, playing second fiddle to our NHS.

"It’s social care, not the NHS, people with dementia have to rely on daily. The funding of care should be spread between all of us in society – just like the NHS and other public services.

"People with dementia are on their knees – finding care difficult to access, costly, inadequate and deeply unfair – the Government must inject enough cash to improve quality and make this a system we all want to grow old in. There’s a historic opportunity to set this right, we encourage the Government to properly grasp the nettle – while dementia isn’t curable yet, the care system is."

Collective failure to deliver reform of adult social care

The social care cap was first proposed by Sir Andrew Dilnot as part of a 2011 report on how to deliver a fair, affordable and sustainable funding system for social care in England.

But changes announced last week revealed means-tested payments from the local council will not count towards the £86,000 cap, something that The King’s Fund, called "disappointing". 

Sally Warren, Director of Policy, said: "These changes will mean that the people who need the most protection from catastrophically high care costs – those with low to moderate levels of wealth – will get less protection than wealthier people. 

"They may well wonder why the Prime Minister’s promise that no one need sell their house to pay for care will benefit wealthier people but doesn’t seem to apply to them.

"The government was brave in raising taxes to fund the long-overdue reform of social care but, having taken two steps forward, has now taken one step back."