Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1157/33370
Poorer pensioners fleeced by social care cap
Brent Kennedy, Carlisle Socialist Party
What a shabby and cynical trick Tory ministers pulled on working-class pensioners while everyone's attention was on the sleaze scandals. Having promised in their election manifesto that "nobody needing care should be forced to sell their home to pay for it", they diluted their September announcement that care costs will be capped at £86,000 in their new Care Act for England, blowing the idea of 'levelling up' out of the water.
The cap will only apply to people's own payments, excluding the means-tested council contribution to which those with low savings or property values are entitled. In addition, vulnerable people in care homes would now have to pay the full cost of board and lodging of £200 a week (pension credit is only around £177), even when they had already reached the 'cap'. This is an attempt to fleece low and middle wage earners in their retirement or infirmity to save the Treasury £900 million pounds while protecting the assets of 'their people' for their heirs.
There's something of the poll tax about this. The Resolution Foundation explains: "If you own a £1 million house in the home counties, over 90% of your assets are protected. If you've got a terraced house in Hartlepool worth £70,000 you can lose almost everything."
The Tory populists claim that everyone affected would be better off, but even Andrew Dilnot, whose inadequate commission on the care system proposed a cap, spells out that "the people most harshly affected by this change are people with assets of exactly £106,000. But everyone with assets of less than £186,000 would do less well under what the government is proposing."
First the Tories increased workers' National Insurance contributions by £12 billion a year, supposedly to finance the care system, and now they are trying to expropriate much of their savings and family homes. The Socialist Party believes that the care system should be publicly owned and integrated into the NHS, free at the point of use, with all funding paid out of general taxation. But that doesn't mean more National Insurance or income tax rises: it means taxing the billionaires, banks and big corporations.
The Tories know how to brazenly look after their class, now we need a new mass party of working people to look after ours.
In The Socialist 24 November 2021:
Violence against women
Working class history