Reforms of social care to be outlined in Tory manifesto
The Conservative manifesto will be launched on Thursday.
Wealthy pensioners will lose up to £300 in winter fuel payments and more elderly people could be forced to pay to be looked after in their own homes under Theresa May’s plans to tackle the social care funding crisis.
The Tory manifesto launched on Thursday will offer protection from the cost of social care for people with assets of £100,000 or less, a dramatic increase from the current £23,250 level in England.
In order to make the system sustainable the value of someone’s property will now be included in the means test for care in their own home, meaning more people will be liable to contribute to the cost of being looked after.
And the winter fuel payment, worth between £100 and £300, will be means-tested and targeted at the least well-off pensioners instead of being a universal benefit paid to all.
The plans are set out in a manifesto called Forward, Together, which the Prime Minister described as a “declaration of intent” to tackle the “great challenges of our time”.
Caring for the UK’s ageing society is one of those challenges and the measures set out in the manifesto are aimed at getting more money into the system.
The money saved by means-testing the winter fuel payment will go directly to fund health and social care.
By including the home within the means-test for domiciliary care, the Tories will bring the system into line with the test for residential care.
But as well as the measures to put more money into the system, the Tories will also put in place protections for people faced with potentially crippling care costs.
Under the current system care costs can deplete an individual’s assets, including in some cases the family home, down to £23,250 or even less with no protection.
That will be replaced with a £100,000 floor, allowing elderly people to retain more of their wealth or pass it on to their families.
The Conservatives said the policy was fairer than the planned £72,000 cap on care costs which was due to be introduced in 2020 but will now be axed.
The Tories will also guarantee that no one, no matter how high their care costs, will have to sell their family home during their lifetime by extending deferred payment arrangements to cover domiciliary care.
Workers will also be given the right to request up to a year’s unpaid leave to care for a relative.
There will be a third more people aged 85-plus in 2024 than there were in 2014, and the growth of long term conditions such as dementia has putting increasing pressure on the social care system which can subsequently have knock-on effects on the NHS by putting strain on hospitals.
Detailed proposals will be set out in a green paper later this year, but the Tories want to improve co-operation between the NHS and care system, preventing unnecessary hospital stays and making better use of technology and specialist housing to help people keep their independence.
The issue is a sign Mrs May does not want her premiership dominated by Brexit although she acknowledged that was the issue that would define the UK’s short-term future.