British PM to water down £100k 'dementia tax' pledge

Lawrence Kim
May 24, 2017

The 10% and 6% lead Theresa May's Conservatives had in two previous polls, which led to predictions of a historic triumph, has been wiped out after a resurgence of support for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in the last two weeks.

"She is hitting older people with a classic Nasty Party triple whammy - scrapping the triple lock on pensions, removing the Winter Fuel Allowance and forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said a Tory U-turn would be "extremely welcome" on a "very unsafe and ill thought-out" policy.

The policy, which has been dubbed a "dementia tax" by opponents, is polling badly among traditional support groups for the Conservatives and has been privately criticised by Tory MPs. May said in a speech on Monday that no one would be forced to sell their home to pay for social care, and she would cap the amount the elderly would have to pay.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour's election co-ordinator, said: "Theresa May has thrown her own election campaign into chaos and confusion".

Under a Tory government, Theresa May initially vowed that more pensioners will have to pay for care at home and only £100,000 of a pensioner's wealth will be protected from care costs. "And you will never have to go below 100,000 pounds [about $129,980] of your savings, so you will always have something to pass on to your family", May said as she launched the Welsh Conservatives' manifesto.

"Paying for care looks set to become a regional lottery", Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb, said at the time.

Speaking in Wales, a visibly frustrated May insisted that "the basic principles" of her plan remained in place, as she was asked by journalists whether the decision to announce a major new aspect of the policy amounted to a "panic" U-turn.

But in a move to stop the storm engulfing her election campaign, Mrs May assured fuming Tory candidates there will be a consultation on capping what older people have to pay for their care.

Phil Wilson, who has held the Sedgefield seat since Mr Blair stood down in 2007, said he will "put local people first" and promised he will oppose his party leader if necessary. May's decision to shift course might reduce the damage from the policy itself, but it risks undermining her central election message, that she's a "strong and stable" leader who is a tough negotiator.

Liberal Democrat former care minister Norman Lamb claimed Mrs May's manifesto is in "meltdown" while SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said it suggested the PM was "not so strong and stable after all".

Plans to make greater use of "deferred payments" in order to claw back costs could further highlight the "regional lottery" of social care, according to the analysis.

"Only Labour offers any clarity now on social care, pledging to create a national care service to deliver dignity for all our elderly".

"Just "me, me, me" and she's the only one that does a U-turn on her own thing".

There was no mention of a cap in the manifesto.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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