MPs back changes to social care cap

Boris Johnson has succeeded in MP backing of his social care cap for England, despite opposition from within the Conservative party.

The government has won a vote in the House of Commons, with a majority of 26, to make changes to social care cost cap proposals. The proposals have however been widely criticised because they could disproportionately affect less wealthy members of society.

Under the plans, means-tested council support payments will be excluded from a new £86,000 lifetime limit on costs, which the Prime Minister insists will be more generous than the current system, calling it “progressive” and “much better” than the existing one.

Under the existing system nobody gets any support if they have assets of £23,000 or more – now you get support if you have £100,000 or less, so we’re helping people … we’re addressing a longstanding social injustice and it will benefit the people of this country,” he said.

The cap will cover fees for personal care, like help with washing and dressing, but will not cover living costs such as care home fees, food or utility bills.

Under the government’s wider social care plan, from October 2023 those with assets of less than £20,000 will not have to pay towards care fees (although they might have to pay from their income) and those with assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will qualify for council help, but will have to pay £86,000 out of their own pocket to reach the cap. Finally those with more than £100,000 in assets not receive any financial help from the council.

Labour deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said that the government had “broken their promise“:

Tonight Conservative MPs voted to break their promise that nobody would have to sell their homes to pay for their social care costs and voted to hammer poorer pensions to protect millionaires in mansions. It’s an inheritance tax on the north and a con, not a social care plan.

Sally Warren, policy director at the King’s Fund health think tank, also criticised the plan, stating that:

The change to the social care cap is a regressive step that will leave people with low levels of wealth still exposed to very high care costs.

It is likely to mean that some people with moderate assets living in poorer areas will still be forced to sell their home to pay for their care, while wealthier people from richer parts of the country will be protected from this“, she said.

Torsten Bell, founder and director of the Resolution Foundation, tweeted:

Why all the social care fuss today? Because this seemingly techy change means the cap on care costs now only protects those with significant assets (who are more likely to live in the South than the North). Insuring the rich/south ≠ not levelling up.

The Act will now pass to the House of Lords for debate and amendments before it returns to the Commons for final votes.

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