WHAT IS THIS “DEMENTIA TAX”?
The Conservative Party Manifesto announcement and subsequent U-Turn on the requirement to pay for social care may have caused many voters to switch their allegiance in the June Election. Although this so-called “Dementia tax” is not strictly a tax, paying for social care has become more important than Inheritance Tax for many families.
If a local authority arranges for an individual to enter a care home on a permanent basis the individual will be means tested to see whether or not they should make a contribution towards the cost of their care. The individual may want to pass on savings or other capital to children or others during their lifetime, but it can affect eligibility for local authority assistance with care fees and Pension Credit.
Under current rules if an individual’s capital adds up to more than £23,250, the local authority may assess them as being able to meet the full cost of their care.
The Coalition Government published a White Paper on the reform of adult social care in July 2012. This proposed to implement the recommendations contained in the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support (known as the Dilnot Commission). The Coalition Government proposed a cap on the maximum that an individual / family would be required to contribute. A figure of £76,000 was suggested to be introduced in 2016 but the Conservative Government elected in 2015 deferred this until 2020 at the earliest.
In their 2017 Election Manifesto the Conservative party announced that the £23,250 threshold would be raised to £100,000 and would also be the threshold for assessing whether the local authority would pick up the bill for Care in the Community. There was however no mention of any cap on Social care costs. This resulted in a very rapid U-Turn following the launch of the manifesto. We are now told that there will be yet another Green Paper to consider a cap on care fees. This issue will need to be closely monitored as it will have a significant impact on any planning undertaken.
Inheritance tax planning such as transferring an asset out of your name does not necessarily mean that it will not be taken into account in a means test. Both the local authority and the Pension Service can, when assessing a resident’s eligibility for assistance, look for evidence of deliberate, or intentional, deprivation of capital such as a property transfer. Deliberate deprivation occurs when an individual transfers an asset out of his or her possession to put him or herself in a better position regarding the means test for care home accommodation.
This is a complex matter so please contact us to discuss the implications for you and your family’s assets.