Storm as minister says: Don’t see home as an asset to leave your kids
No 10 forced to reassure middle class pensioners
DOWNING Street yesterday slapped down a minister who said pensioners should not think of their homes as an asset to pass on to their children.
Care Minister Jackie Doyle-Price was recorded on film saying taxpayers should not be ‘propping up’ the elderly so they can keep their homes despite building up ‘massive’ care costs.
She told a fringe event at the Tory conference that when it comes to their homes, people see themselves as ‘the custodian of an asset to give to their offspring’, adding: ‘They shouldn’t be seen as that.’
The Prime Minister’s spokesman rejected the comments, saying families who have worked hard should be able to pass their homes on.
Labour seized on Miss Doyle-Price’s intervention, saying it proved the Conservatives were reviving the so-called ‘dementia tax’, which damaged Mrs May’s chances during the general election. It came just days after it was revealed that the Government is dropping its pledge to bring in a cap of around £75,000 on social care costs by 2020.
The delay means thousands will continue to be denied much of their inheritance if their parents have care needs.
Miss Doyle-Price’s intervention comes after another minister, Dr Phillip Lee, suggested Britons have become too ‘selfish’ and were ‘outsourcing’ the care of their loved ones.
Under England’s broken care system, those who go into a residential home have to use their own assets to pay the full costs of their care until they are reduced to their last £23,500.
The Tory election manifesto said these rules should be extended to those receiving care in their own homes. The plan was quickly dubbed the ‘dementia tax’.
In the new footage, which was released by Labour, Miss DoylePrice said: ‘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.’ She added: ‘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.’
Asked whether Mrs May agrees with Miss Doyle-Price, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We have said that where there are care bills, it is right that where people can contribute, they do so.
‘But the Prime Minister has also said that where people have worked hard all their lives to build up these assets, they should be able to pass that on to their children. This is a complex issue with an ageing population. The Government has said that it will be bringing forward proposals in due
‘Propped up by the taxpayer’
course. In the meantime we’ve put an extra £2billion into social care to deal with some of these issues.’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘The idea of a “dementia tax” was rightly rejected by the public during the general election. It is appalling that the Tories still want to force older people to pay for care with their homes. Labour will provide hope for older people and treat them with the respect they deserve by investing an extra £8billion in social care and establishing a national care service to reverse years of Tory decline.’
Economist Sir Andrew Dilnot, the architect of the Tories’ pledge to cap sky-high care bills, yesterday repeated his call for such a system to be introduced.
Fringe event: Jackie Doyle-Price