Tory manifesto pledges £100k social care threshold

PEOPLE with assets worth more than £100,000 will have to pay for their own social care - but will not be forced to sell off their home in their lifetime, the Conservatives have pledged.

The party's election manifesto, launched today by Prime Minister Theresa May, would raise the threshold at which people are expected to cover the full cost of their care from £23,250 - but would include the value of a home in asset calculations for both residential and home care.

The proposed £72,000 cap on care costs due to come into effect in 2020 would also be scrapped.

The ability to defer payments during a person's lifetime will be extended from those in residential care to people receiving home care.

"We believe this powerful combination maximises protection for pensioner households with modest assets, often invested in the family home, while remaining affordable for taxpayers," the manifesto states.

"We consider it more equitable, within and across the generations, than the proposals following the Dilnot Report, which mostly benefited a small number of wealthier people."

But Andrew Dilnot, who recommended the £72,000 cap on costs and a £35,000 general cap during a person's lifetime, criticised the plans, saying it would leave the majority of those cared for at home worse off and leave people "helpless" against rising costs.  

"The changes just fail to tackle the central problem that scares most people. You are not tackling the big issue that people can’t pool their risks. There is nothing that anybody can do to pool their risk with the rest of the population; you just have to hope that you are not unlucky," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It is not providing insurance. You could easily have care costs of £300,000 each if you are a couple; you are not able to cover that extreme risk, which is what we all want to do faced with anything else which we can insure. That’s the market failure and these changes do nothing to address that."

But health secretary Jeremy Hunt said capping costs is unfair.

"We're dropping it because we don't think it is fair because you could have a situation where someone who owns a house worth £1m or £2m, and has expensive care costs of perhaps £100,000 or £200,000, ends up not having to pay those care costs because they are capped. And those costs get borne by taxpayers and we don't think that's fair on different generations," he told Today.

"Everyone will be confident that they can pass on £100,000 to their children and grandchildren. The way we are going to pay for that is by making the rules the same for people who go into care homes as for people who get care at their home, and by means-testing the winter fuel payment, which currently isn't."