Having chaired the Health and Care Bill in Parliament, convention requires that I shouldn’t vote at Report Stage. That doesn’t mean I don’t have real issues with what’s going on.
Boris Johnson told us he had a plan to fix social care. Eventually he announced proposals to cover big shortfalls in funding by raising £12 billion through a national insurance increase.
Despite the tax grab, his plans weren’t discussed, weren’t even announced, during 21 committee sessions of the Health and Care Bill.
They were slipped out while sleaze and rail plans were dominating the news.
He’s doing a Robin Hood in reverse. Having repeatedly claimed no one would have to sell their home, it turns out that only the most expensive homes will be protected.
Many of England’s poorest pensioners will end up paying more for care and there are no plans to raise the quality, improve much needed home care services or address serious staff shortages.
Someone with a house valued at £70,000 will lose almost everything, while the owner of a property worth £1 million can safeguard 90%.
The biggest losers will be those in parts of the Midlands and the North of England where house prices are much lower than those in the South.
This social care con hits hardest in those seats the Tories gained from Labour at the last election, not surprising then that so many Tory MPs abstained on the vote.
Meanwhile, research has revealed that one in four pensioners, forced to continue working to make ends meet, will not only be clobbered by the national insurance rise but also find themselves forced to sell their home when they need care.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, architect of the social care reforms which the Tories abandoned, told the Treasury Select Committee that the changes were “very disappointing” and warned that about 60% of people needing care will lose out.
Those with large assets will benefit but those with modest savings will see them eaten away.
It’s not a plan to fix social care, it’s a plan to rob the poor to help the rich.