Oxfordshire County Council is to join a small group of local authorities in England to pilot adult social care charging reforms that introduce a new lifetime cap on personal care.
The new system will be introduced early in Oxfordshire as it becomes the sixth council to be selected by government to help shape the national approach to implementation, testing key aspects of the reforms to improve understanding of how it will work in practice.
Councillor Tim Bearder, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “We know reform in adult social care is needed to remove the unpredictable care costs people face as they get older. Oxfordshire is a national leader in adult social care and being a part of this small group of early adopters gives us the opportunity to influence how the programme will be rolled out and share our best practice with national government.”
The reforms, announced in September 2021, include a ‘care cap’ limiting the amount that individuals will have to pay for the cost of their care to £86,000. Oxfordshire residents will be able to start metering for their care from January 2023, ten months earlier than previously planned.
Oxfordshire County Council will be piloting the reforms alongside five other local authorities that the government are referring to as trailblazers. These include Wolverhampton, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Newham and North Yorkshire. While the other councils were announced back in March, Oxfordshire has now been added to help give a more balanced cross section of communities represented in the pilot programme.
Minister for care and mental health, Gillian Keegan, said: “It’s great to have Oxfordshire join our trailblazers to implement the charging reform early. Oxfordshire, along with our other trailblazers will pave the way, ensuring we learn from any insight, evidence and lessons to help providers and local authorities across England in the future. We’re looking forward to working with them to make the ambitious change a reality.”
Cllr Bearder continued: “We are currently working with care providers in Oxfordshire through a fair cost of care exercise to understand what the true cost of delivering quality care is in the county. This amount will vary for each local authority.
“This co-production exercise is hugely important as it underpins the entire reform programme, helping us to establish a fair system which removes unpredictable care costs for older members of our community while ensuring market sustainability for our care providers.
“Officers are currently working hard behind the scenes to set up the new system. Over the coming months we will make sure residents are kept informed of what these changes mean for them, helping a smooth transition towards the new way of working next year.”