Social care pledges mark significant shift in post-1997 consensus

May 18, 2017 | By Elizabeth Beck | Posted in Politics

There are of course no politically easy answers on social care funding and a large majority will no doubt be used to claim a big mandate, but find out why the Conservative manifesto policy is far from a done deal.

The reckoning that needs to come on social care, which politicians are finally waking up to, is reflected in a standalone section on the issue. The pledge that no one will have to sell their home in their lifetime has won positive headlines (certainly more favourable than when Labour proposed a similar policy in the run up to the 2010 election).

However, the policy will mean many thousands of older people will pay more for their care – whether they receive it at home or in a home – with the value of their homes taken into account in means testing and no lifetime cap on care costs. To sugar this pill, the value of assets that will be protected from care costs will increase from £23,000 to £100,000.

The scrapping of universal winter fuel payments should provide additional resources for care, but amounts to a raid on the middle class with what was a universal benefit. There is also an end to the ‘triple lock’ on pensions, replacing it with a double lock – a move which should save resources in the medium term.  

Taken together, the measures represent a significant departure from the financial protection given to older people from the squeeze on public expenditure. If this morning’s headlines will have pleased Conservative spinners, then the reaction to them will not. It points to an extremely bumpy ride for this policy. A recent Incisive Health poll found that 57% of people would be willing to pay more Council Tax to fund social care. All sides will no doubt anxiously await signs of public reaction to this policy.  

There are of course no politically easy answers on social care funding and a large majority will no doubt be used to claim a big mandate but, with concerns over the announcement already rising in Conservative quarters, this policy is far from a done deal.

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