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Conservative minister accused of resurrecting ‘dementia tax’

The Independent logo The Independent 12/10/2017 Ashley Cowburn

© Provided by Independent Print Limited A Conservative minister has been accused of resurrecting the so-called “dementia tax”, claiming that taxpayers should not be “propping up” people to keep their own homes while they were generating significant social care costs. 

In video footage obtained by Labour, Jackie Doyle-Price, a social care minister, told a meeting that when it came to their homes, people saw themselves as “the custodian of an asset to give their offspring” and that “they shouldn’t be seen as that”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seized on the recording – filmed during a meeting at the Conservative party conference last week – as evidence of the Government’s plans to revive the “dementia tax” that was “rightly rejected by the public” during the election.

“It is appalling that the Tories still want to force older people to pay for care with their homes,” Mr Corbyn added. “It can’t be right that if you have a heart condition you’re treated on the NHS but if you have dementia you have to pay with your home.

Video: Conservative climbdown over 'dementia tax' (Sky News)

“This is further proof that the Conservative’s are yesterday’s party, with no plan to fix out country’s problems. Labour stands ready to form a government that works for the many not the few.”

In the footage Ms Doyle-Price says: “The reality is that the taxpayer shouldn't necessarily be propping up people to keep their property and hand it on to their children when they're generating massive care needs.

“We've got to a stage where people feel that they are the custodian of an asset to give to their offspring but actually we need to get back to a stage where actually homes are for living in - they shouldn't be seen as that.

“People are now well into their pension ages sitting in homes that really are too big for their needs and we really do need to start having those conversations about what's appropriate earlier.”

Later in the same meeting, she added: “We are very much looking at, when the review comes up, we will be looking at the whole issue of caps and floors.”

In an attempt to address the crisis in social care funding in the UK, the Conservatives’ manifesto suggested that people should be able to protect £100,000 of assets to pass on to family members after their death.

“This will 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,” the manifesto added.

But the policy was quickly labelled as a “dementia tax” and in a failed attempt to end the row at a press conference on the general election a visibly irritated Prime Minister told journalists that an “absolute limit” on the amount people would have to pay for care would be introduced. She also insisted that “nothing has changed” when repeatedly questioned over the controversial policy.

After the inconclusive general election result ministers have said they will bring forward proposals to reform funding of adult social care but the “dementia tax” was notably absent from the Queen’s Speech in June – used to set out the Government’s legislative agenda for the next two years.

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