Social care concerns may have influenced election outcome

June, 2017 Print

Pensions and social care campaigner Baroness Ros Altmann has attributed the election result to the Conservative manifesto and in particular its policy on social care.

Altmann, who was appointed to the House of Lords by former prime minister David Cameron, said the Tory manifesto was a turning point in the campaign, which saw Theresa May go from expecting to increase her majority significantly, to barely remaining in office. “To say the policy announcements on pensions and care were badly thought through would be an understatement. They don’t really seem to have been thought through at all,” Altmann commented. She added that extending means-testing in an arbitrary manner, without proper consultation or understanding how the policy would impact pensioners, was “a mistake of monumental proportions” and “politically poisonous”, as it hit the older home-owners and would not solve the social care crisis anyway.

At present, although there is a cap of £23,250 on amount of social care costs borne by the individuale costs, this does not include the value of a home, if an individual receives home care or still has a relative living at home. Under the Conservative manifesto, a cap of £100,000 would apply, including the value of homes in all circumstances. “Suddenly, millions more people would be hit by social care costs – most particularly those families whose loved ones had dementia or other conditions that did not count as ‘health’ needs. A millionaire with cancer could have all their care costs paid by the NHS and their house was safe. But an older person with dementia, and a home worth £250,000, would have to pay for all their care until most of their house value was gone,” Altmann said. She added that the manifesto proposals would make the care crisis worse by worsening NHS bed-blocking as older people would be incentivised to stay in hospital, they gave no extra support to local authorities, and disincentivised people from saving for social care costs.

Altmann said that the social care crisis should not be a political football, and a solution to it needs to encompass several elements. “This could consider extra National Insurance payments, or a charge on all people’s estates, plus new savings incentives alongside pensions and ISAs, and integration of health and social care systems,” Altmann said.

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