Election 2017

General election: Theresa May changes social care plans

Elderly person holding hands with a carer Image copyright Science Photo Library

Theresa May has said proposed changes to social care funding will include an option for an "absolute limit" on the money people will have to pay.

The Conservatives ruled out a cap on total costs in last week's manifesto, instead saying no-one would see their assets fall below £100,000.

The PM said the plan was "sensible" and would stop the system from collapse.

But she said she wanted to address "shameful" fears that people would be forced to sell their family home.

She told activists in Wales that the Conservatives were "determined the fix the system" and the consultation on the plans, if the party wins the election, would consider a cap among the options.

"We will make sure nobody has to sell their family home to pay for care," she said.

"We will make sure there's an absolute limit on what people need to pay. And you will never have to go below £100,000 of your savings, so you will always have something to pass on to your family"

Mrs May said she had not "changed the basic principles" set out in the manifesto, saying the plans would still give people "peace of mind" about the care available, but was now clarifying the details.

But Former Chancellor George Osborne, now editor of the Evening Standard, said it was a U-turn.

Currently, people living in residential care can ask their local authority to pay their bill and recover the money from the sale of their family home after they die.

The Conservatives' plan would extend this right to those receiving care in their own homes, who would have to pay until they were down to their last £100,000.

Image copyright ForMed Films

Under the Conservative plans nobody with assets of less than £100,000 would have to pay for social care. Currently anyone with assets of over £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 that is not the case if you receive care in your own home. Under the Tory plans the value of your home may in future be factored in, although the money would not be taken from your estate until after your death.

This means some people fear they will not be able to pass their homes down to their children.

The BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith said Conservative sources had earlier been dismissing the prospect of any rethink over the plans, insisting there would be "no rowing back".

He said he had been told that while there would be a consultation, this had always been planned and it would only examine "the finer detail" of the policy.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had accused the Conservatives of "forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes," labelling the policy a "dementia tax".

The Lib Dems, meanwhile, had said nine out of 10 homes would be eligible to be sold under the new regime, citing Land Registry house sale figures.

Calling for a "national movement" against the policy, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said it was a "callous blow for people who have dementia and other long-term conditions, like multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease, and of course their families.

"It is not just a massive mistake but a cruel attack on vulnerable people the length and breadth of this country."

The Conservatives had attempted to fight back online, with a paid-for ad on Google which pop up when users of the search engine type in the words "dementia tax".

The ad reads "The so-called 'dementia tax' - Get the real facts - conservatives.com, together with a link to an explainer about the party's social care policies on its website.

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