General election 2017: May defends revised social care plans

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Theresa May has defended making changes to the Tories’ social care pledge as critics called it a “manifesto meltdown”.

The PM told the BBC “nothing has changed” and claimed rival parties had been “trying to scare” elderly people.

Her announcement that an overall cap on costs would be included in the Tories’ offer followed criticism of the policy, first announced on Thursday.

She said the size of the cap would be the subject of a consultation.

Labour and the Lib Dems said the policy was “in meltdown”.

Since the publication of the Conservative manifesto last week, much of the attention has focused on reforms to the way care for elderly and vulnerable adults is funded.

The manifesto did not mention an overall cap on costs, instead proposing a £100,000 “floor” beyond which people’s assets would be protected.

Speaking to activists in Wales earlier, the PM said the package would now include an “absolute limit” on the money people would have to pay, triggering accusations of a U-turn on the manifesto announcement.

In her interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, Mrs May denied this and said the principle the policy was based on “remains absolutely the same”.


By BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

Suddenly, only four days after the Tory manifesto was published, Theresa May has added one rather crucial proposal to her social care plan – a limit, or a cap, to the amount of money one individual could be asked to pay.

She is adamant that she is not budging on her principles, and was clearly irritated by questions after her speech that said she was backtracking.

But the manifesto did not include the notion of a cap, and just yesterday ministers publicly rejected such an idea.

Read more from Laura

The whole package will be put out to consultation, Mrs May said, adding that people were “worried” by the Labour Party saying they could have to sell their homes under the reforms.

Including an overall cap would mean the Tories were “protecting people for the future,” Mrs May said.

“We are providing a system that provides sustainability in our social care for the future and we have got an ageing population. We need to do this otherwise our system will collapse.”

In interviews since the manifesto launch, ministers said a cap – as proposed by a government review in 2011 – had been rejected.

‘Triumph of spin’

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the time that it was “completely explicit” that the idea of a cap had been dropped.

Currently anyone with savings and other assets worth more than £23,250 is expected to pay the full cost of their residential care and the value of their home can be taken into account. But this does not apply to those receiving care in their own home.

Under the Conservative plans, this would change and property values could, in future, be factored in. The money would not be taken from an estate until after an individual’s death and £100,000 from that estate would be protected.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May’s announcement was a “triumph of spin over reality” and the policy had changed very little.

Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said Theresa May had suffered a “manifesto meltdown” but had still not provided certainty to families about how much they would have to pay for domiciliary care.

In the interview with Andrew Neil, Mrs May also said her cabinet backed her pledge to cut immigration below 100,000, contrary to the claims of ex-chancellor George Osborne – and that a strong economy would help fund the Tories’ £8bn NHS pledge.

The PM refused to rule out future rises to National Insurance contributions for the self-employed but said the issue was “off the table” and that it was the Tories’ intention to reduce taxes for businesses and working families.

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