by Andy McNicoll & Luke Stevenson
Theresa May has said proposed changes to social care funding will now include an “absolute limit” on the amount people pay towards care costs.
The move marks a U-turn by the Conservatives, with the party having appeared to rule out the introduction of a cap on care costs just last week.
The party’s manifesto instead pledged to introduce an asset threshold that would mean people only paid for social care costs until their assets were worth £100,000 or less.
The document set no limit on how much people would pay for their care if their assets exceeded the threshold. It also explicitly criticised the Dilnot commission’s proposals, which included a costs cap, saying that they “benefited a small number of wealthier people”.
Since announced, the Conservatives’ social care proposals have drawn fierce criticism from other political parties, with critics labelling the asset threshold a “dementia tax”.
Today, May said the Conservatives would include a proposal for a care costs limit in a consultation if the party is re-elected.
She said: “This manifesto says that we will come forward with a consultation paper, a government green paper, and that consultation will include an absolute limit on the amount people have to pay for their care costs.”
She added: “There will be 2 million more people over 75 years old in Britain over the next decade alone. Our social care system will collapse unless we make some important decisions now about how we fund it.”
Labour said May had thrown the Tories’ election campaign “into chaos and confusion”.
Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s election co-ordinator, said: “She is unable to stick to her own manifesto for more than four days. And by failing to put a figure for a cap on social care costs, she has only added to the uncertainty for millions of older people and their families.”
Under the care funding plans included in the Conservative manifesto, people receiving care in the home would have their housing wealth taken into account as part of their assets when calculating care charges in the same way as care home residents currently do.
Secondly, people in both settings will only have to contribute to care costs from their capital above a floor of £100,000. The manifesto said that this would ensure that, “no matter how large the cost of care turns out to be, people will always retain at least £100,000 of their savings and assets, including value in the family home”.
As now, people’s income would also be taken into account when calculating care charges in both settings.