Boris Johnson faces Tory rebellion over 'unfair' social care reforms

21 November 2021, 23:34 | Updated: 22 November 2021, 00:12

The government is facing rebellions over changes to social care funding that would begin in October 2023.
The government is facing rebellions over changes to social care funding that would begin in October 2023. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

The government has been warned it could face rebellion from some Tory MPs over changes to social care funding that will hit poorer pensioners hardest.

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It comes as a vote is set to take place on the measures - as an amendment of the Health and Care Bill - on Monday.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said "everyone, doesn't matter where they live in the country, will be better off" under the plans.

But changes made this week mean state funding will no longer contribute to the total care cost cap of £86,000, a move critics says will disadvantage those living in poorer areas of the country.

The cap, due to come in from October 2023, will mean no-one in England will have to pay more than £86,000 on personal care over their lifetime.

This does not impact day-to-day living costs such as rent and food bills, which are not funded by government.

But the government is due to introduce an amendment to the Care Act 2014, which will ensure only the amount that an individual contributes towards personal costs will count.

Read more: Tory MP tells LBC he'll vote against Govt social care changes

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Labour said the amendment will disadvantage homeowners in areas with lower house prices, who will have to give up a larger proportion of their assets to pay for care.

According to their analysis, the changes would mean the average homeowner in two-thirds of northern areas will have to pay more towards their care. In the Midlands, a third would be worse off.

However, the government has argued it is a "much more generous" means test, which will ensure "people do not reach the cap at an artificially faster rate than what they contribute".

Under the plans, people with assets up to £20,000 will not have to contribute anything to their care (up from £14,250), while those with assets up to £100,000 will be eligible to receive some local authority support (up from £23,250).

Read more: Government's 'sneaky' changes on social care costs will 'hit poorest pensioners hardest'

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said pensioners with "modest assets" would be hit hardest by the changes.

"Government ministers have not only whacked up tax on working people but are now asking MPs to vote for pensioners across the North and Midlands with modest assets to be hit hardest under Boris Johnson's care con," he said.

"Red Wall Tories should learn the lessons of the past two weeks, put their constituents first and join us in voting down this deeply unfair proposal. Ministers need to get back to the drawing board and come up with a fairer package."

Sir Andrew Dilnot, who led a review into the future funding of social care a decade ago, had said those with fewer assets "will not see any benefit" from the new funding structure, with the government set to make savings "exclusively" from this group.

Conservative MPs have also voiced concerns over the plan, with Robert Buckland, the former Justice Secretary, telling LBC he is considering voting against the plan.

"I think the government should look again at this," said Mr Buckland.

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"I think that we're in danger of putting the cart before the horse. I think it's far better to actually publish the social care whitepaper first so that we can see what the new proposals are - what is the system that we're going to be funding?

"Let's have a look at that first."

Asked to clarify if he is currently planning on voting against the plans, Mr Buckland said: "Yes," adding "I think there's a lot of concern out there about this issue and I know that the government is listening to those concerns."

Mr Ashworth tweeted in response: "Let’s hope other Tory MPs join Robert and Labour MPs in voting against this unfair care con tomorrow.

"Ministers need to go back to the drawing board and bring a fair alternative to Parliament."