Care cost dumped on the backs of the poor – by Tory amendment to Health and Social Care Bill

Demonstration outside Parliament against the Health and Care Bill

‘THIS IS daylight robbery,’ Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth warned yesterday as the Health and Social Care Bill began its third reading.

He was reacting to an amendment to the Bill that was voted on last night, which dumps the huge cost of elderly care on the backs of the poorest forcing them to sell their homes to pay for their own care.

In September, the Tory government pledged an £86,000 cap on personal care costs.

The amendment to the plan, means that support payments from councils will not count towards the cap, with charities also warning the move will unfairly hit the poorest.

Ashworth said that people with fewer assets, especially in the north of the country, would end up losing a larger proportion of their wealth than better off people.

He said: ‘They don’t protect everybody from catastrophic costs. It is actually a care con because if you need social care and you are fortunate enough to own a £1m house, say in the home counties, then 90% of your assets will be protected.

‘But if you are unfortunate enough to need social care and you live in an £80,000 house in say Barrow or Hartlepool or Mansfield, you’ll lose nearly everything.

‘That is manifestly unfair. That is not levelling up, it is frankly daylight robbery.’

Tory PM Johnson had the cheek to insist the new system would be ‘incredibly generous’.

Speaking at the CBI conference, Johnson claimed: ‘We are finally tackling a problem that has bedevilled this country for many, many years.’

Meanwhile, the British Medical Association (BMA) North East regional council chair Dr George Rae warned: ‘This is the wrong bill at the wrong time.’

Dr Rae warns that amid ongoing pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic and, with the largest ever backlog of care to contend with and patients in the North East facing unacceptable waits for treatment, this bill comes at a precarious time for the NHS.

In a letter, Dr Rae writes: ‘As a doctor, working in the NHS, I witness daily the huge pressures facing the workforce which is still tackling the ongoing pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic and the huge backlog of care it has created. Waiting lists are at a record high of 5.7 million and the BMA estimates the workforce is short of around 50,000 doctors.’

He continued: ‘It is not the right time for the NHS or for patients for the biggest reorganisation of the NHS in a decade, and for a Bill which fails to address dangerous workforce shortages; risks unnecessary and destabilising outsourcing to private providers; fails to empower and engage with local clinical leadership; and gives politicians greater powers to interfere in operational NHS decision-making.’