Social care reforms ‘a working-class dementia tax’, says Starmer

The Labour leader raised concerns over the Government’s care plans during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to attend Prime Minister’s Questions
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to attend Prime Minister’s Questions

Boris Johnson is fronting a “pickpocketing operation” to introduce a “working-class dementia tax” via his social care reforms, according to Sir Keir Starmer.

The Labour leader repeatedly pressed the Prime Minister over whether people would have to sell their homes as a result of the Government’s care plans for England.

The Government wants to introduce an £86,000 cap on lifetime care costs from October 2023.

Prime Minister’s Questions
Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/PA)

But a policy paper last week showed that only personal contributions would count towards that cap for people who received financial support from a local authority for some of their care.

Experts said this would mean that poorer individuals would reach the cap faster than those who were wealthier and would therefore see more of their assets eaten up by care costs.

Following a Tory rebellion over the issue this week, Sir Keir raised concerns over the policy at Prime Minister’s Questions.

He said of Mr Johnson in the Commons: “The only thing he is delivering is high taxes, high prices and low growth. I’m not sure the Prime Minister should be shouting about that.

“And it isn’t just broken promises, it’s also about fairness. Everyone needs protecting against massive health and care costs.

Prime Minister’s Questions
Sir Keir Starmer described the plans as ‘a classic con game’ (House of Commons/PA)

“But under his plan, someone with assets worth about £100,000 will lose almost everything yet somebody with assets of about £1 million will keep almost everything.

“It’s just like their 2017 manifesto all over again, only this time something has changed.

“He’s picked the pockets of working people to protect the estates of the wealthiest.

“How could he possibly have managed to devise a working-class dementia tax?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I think I’ve answered that question three times already.

“This does more for working people up and down the country than Labour ever did because we’re actually solving the problem that they failed to address.

“We’re disregarding your housing asset altogether while you’re in it.”

Sir Keir countered that working people were being asked to pay twice by paying “much more tax” in national insurance, while those “living off wealth are protected”.

He added: “Then when they retire, they face having to sell their home when the wealthiest won’t have to do so.

“It’s a classic con game. A Covent Garden pickpocketing operation. The Prime Minister is the frontman, distracting people with wild promises and panto speeches whilst his Chancellor dips his hand in their pocket.”

Sir Keir said Mr Johnson’s routine was “falling flat” before highlighting reports of tensions between No 10 and the Treasury, adding: “Is everything OK, Prime Minister?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I’ll tell you what’s not working – it’s that line of attack.”

Then-prime minister Theresa May’s election campaign in 2017 struggled after the controversy over her proposals on social care reform, which were dubbed a “dementia tax” by critics.

Labour later released research which it claimed showed the Government’s social care reforms would disproportionately hit families in the Midlands and the north of England.

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