Conservative social care funding cap: Theresa May defends changes

Media captionWatch: Andrew Neil grills Theresa May over Tory plans for social care in England

Theresa May has defended her changes to the Tory social care policy, as critics called it a “manifesto meltdown”.

The PM told the BBC “nothing has changed” and said rival parties had been “trying to scare” elderly people.

It came after she said earlier that there would be a cap on how much people paid for care – a change from the original policy which included no cap.

She did not say what level the cap would be set at but said it would be in a post-election consultation.

Labour and the Lib Dems said the Conservative social care policy was “in meltdown”.

Since the publication of the Conservative manifesto last week, much attention has been focused on reforms to the way care for elderly and vulnerable adults is funded.

The manifesto did not mention an overall cap on costs, instead proposing a £100,000 “floor” beyond which people’s assets would be protected.

Speaking to activists in Wales earlier, Mrs May said the package would now include an “absolute limit” on the money people would have to pay – triggering accusations that she had made a U-turn.

In her interview, with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, Mrs May denied this and said the principle the policy was based on remained absolutely the same”.


Analysis

By BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

Suddenly, only four days after the Tory manifesto was published, Theresa May has added one rather crucial proposal to her social care plan – a limit, or a cap, to the amount of money one individual could be asked to pay.

She is adamant that she is not budging on her principles, and was clearly irritated by questions after her speech that said she was backtracking.

But the manifesto did not include the notion of a cap, and just yesterday ministers publicly rejected such an idea.

Read more from Laura


The whole package will be put out to consultation, Mrs May said, adding that people had been “worried” by the Labour Party saying her reforms could mean they would have to sell their homes to pay for care.

Including an overall cap would mean the Tories were “protecting people for the future,” Mrs May said.

“We are providing a system that provides sustainability in our social care for the future and we have got an ageing population. We need to do this otherwise our system will collapse.”

Since the manifesto launch on Thursday, ministers had been saying the idea of a cap – as proposed by a government review in 2011 – had been rejected.

Media captionWatch: Theresa May faces journalists over the “U-turn”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the time that it was “completely explicit” that the idea of a cap had been dropped.

Currently anyone with savings and other assets worth more than £23,250 is expected to pay the full cost of their residential care and the value of their home can be taken into account. But this does not apply to those receiving care in their own home.

Under the Conservative plans, this would change and the value of a person’s homes could, in future, be factored in. However, the money would not be taken until after the person – or their surviving partner – had died and £100,000 from that estate would be protected.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May’s announcement was a “triumph of spin over reality” and the policy had changed very little.

Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said Theresa May had suffered a “manifesto meltdown” but had still not provided certainty to families about how much they would have to pay for domiciliary care.

In the interview with Andrew Neil, Mrs May also said her cabinet backed her pledge to cut immigration below 100,000, contrary to the claims of ex-chancellor George Osborne – and that a strong economy would help fund the Tories’ £8bn NHS pledge.

She also said an extra £10bn would be spent on NHS buildings and infrastructure, as recommended in a recent government review, with the money to be raised from a “variety of sources”.

The PM refused to rule out future rises to National Insurance contributions for the self-employed but said the issue was “off the table” and that it was her party’s intention to reduce taxes for businesses and working families.

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