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EXCLUSIVE: Tory leaders question May's care funding reforms

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More Conservative council leaders have raised doubts that their party’s proposals to reform social care funding will address the severe pressures on services.

election 2017 1

election 2017 1

Under plans unveiled in the party’s manifesto last Thursday, no one with assets worth £100,000 or less will have to pay for care support, with the value of property taken into account for home care costs for the first time.

Costs for those with assets above this floor value will be recouped following a person’s death.

The policy has been dubbed a ‘dementia tax’ by some parts of the media due to the likelihood those who suffer from the condition stand to lose the most in value of their assets due to the high costs and often long term nature of care required. Following the publication of the manifesto Theresa May’s poll lead over Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn almost halved to nine points, according to a YouGov survey for the Sunday Times this weekend. 

Izzi Seccombe (Con), chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, told LGC last week that she was “not too sure” the plans would provide a sustainable long-term funding solution.

“The problem with retrospective payments is you need to be able to fund it in the meantime,” the Warwickshire CC leader added.

Other Conservative county leaders have told LGC the proposals in their current form would not address rising pressures on council-funded social care services.

Essex CC leader David Finch (Con) described the proposals as “a step in the right direction”.

But he added: “This is not a solution. There needs to be a fundamental redesign of health and social care funding in the long term.

“There needs to be a more progressive system - not just a knee-jerk reaction but a plan over five years.”

Cllr Finch called for a more “collaborative” approach to health and social care funding that could address pressures across the whole system, including support for people with learning and physical disabilities.

Kent CC leader Paul Carter (Con), who is standing as a candidate for leader of the Conservative group on the Local Government Association, said a lack of detail in the manifesto meant the financial impact “remains to be seen”.

But added: “The £100,000 floor exacerbates the problem. More families with better access to free support will be relieved but it is a cost local authorities will have to pick up.

“The demography of a growing population will continue to put pressure on social care. Learning disabilities budgets are also going up year on year and in some authorities are larger than the cost of caring for the elderly people.”

Cllr Carter said he hoped the measures would encourage the insurance industry to offer products for social care costs, but added the government would need to offer support to reduce the expected high premiums.

Hillingdon LBC leader David Simmonds (Con), who is standing against Cllr Carter for leader of the LGA’s Conservative group, said the measures showed the party was looking at solutions to the problems in social care.

But he added: “We will want to consider and understand the detail. Councils know this is not just about elderly people and there needs to be a broader based approach.”

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