William Eichler 18 May 2017

Tories unveil plans to fund social care

Tories unveil plans to fund social care image

People with more than £100,000 in assets will have to pay for their own care out of the value of their home rather than rely on the council, the Conservatives pledge.

The Tories will today launch their manifesto which is expected to contains plans to reform the social care system by raising the threshold for when the elderly are eligible for state-funded home care.

The current cap of £23,500 per individual will be raised to £100,000 if the Conservatives win the next election. This figure, however, includes the value of property, which is currently excluded by local authorities when assessing eligibility.

The manifesto will also contain pledges to bring in means-testing of the winter fuel allowance and an extra £4bn on schools in England by 2022.

This latter policy will be partly funded by an end to the current provision of free school lunches for all infant pupils in England. However, the manifesto contains a pledge to provide free breakfasts to pupils.

There will also be a reduction of the so-called ‘triple lock’ on pensions to a ‘double lock’ with the state pension to rise by the higher of average earnings or inflation — but to no longer go up by 2.5% if they are both lower than that.

Theresa May’s new social care policy has provoked outrage from the leading Conservative think tank Bow Group, which characterised the proposals as a ‘tax on death’.

‘These proposals will mean that the majority of property owning citizens could be transferring the bulk of their assets to the government upon death for care they have already paid a lifetime of taxes to receive,’ said Bow chairman Ben Harris-Quinney.

‘It is a tax on death and on inheritance. It will mean that in the end, the Government will have taken the lions share of a lifetime earnings in taxes,’ he continued.

‘If enacted, it is likely to represent the biggest stealth tax in history and when people understand that they will be leaving most of their estate to the Government, rather than their families, the Conservative Party will experience a dramatic loss of support.’

The decision to raise the cap on care costs has provoked the Liberal Democrats to accuse Theresa May of ‘betraying’ hard working people.

‘The Conservatives claimed they had merely delayed the cap on care costs, now they have abandoned it,’ said Lib Dem shadow health secretary Norman Lamb.

‘It is a betrayal of people who work hard all their lives, end up with a condition like dementia and will now be saddled with catastrophic costs to pay for their care.’

Mr Lamb added his party would ‘introduce a cap on care costs of £70,000 to protect older people from seeing everything they've worked hard for disappear.’

The Conservative Party’s plans found a marginally better reception in the local government sector. The think tank the New Local Government Network welcomed the ‘much-needed extra funding’ promised by the proposals.

‘Theresa May said she would not "duck the issue" of social care but there is some way to go yet if she is to live up to that pledge. The proposals announced today offer the prospect of much-needed extra funding,’ said director Adam Lent.

‘But the failure to provide some model to spread the financial burden across the whole population with an upper threshold on care costs means the policy will fail to bring stability to a crumbling market, fairness to the system or certainty for those requiring care.’

Rob Whiteman, CEO of CIPFA, added: 'Many of the promises made to drive savings and improve outcomes reflect recommendations from the Care Act and Dilnot reviews, such as raising increasing the threshold to £100k.

'Whilst welcoming that some difficult solutions have been proposed, the context means that there would still be further to go during the lifetime of the next parliament, not least considering an insurance scheme for social care or revisiting taxation levels.'

For more in this story, visit The MJ (£).

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