The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 26th May 2017

Pensioners condemn May’s ‘Frankenstein monster’ tax

THE NATIONAL Pensioners Convention (NPC) last week described Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of her plan to solve the crisis in funding care for the elderly by means testing them and taking into account the value of their homes if they are worth more than £100,000 as a “Frankenstein’s monster” of a policy.

It would mean that most elderly home-owners would have to surrender their homes to the Treasury after their death in exchange for their basic health care.

Jan Shortt, NPC general secretary, said: “The Conservatives’ manifesto pledge on social care offers the worst of all possible worlds for millions of older people and their families. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of a plan which bolts lots of bad policies together and still fails to tackle the real unfairness in the care system.

“Every single pensioner needing care at home will now be forced to pay, regardless of their income, because for the first time ever the value of their home will be taken into account, whilst the number of those in care homes that will benefit will be relatively small by comparison.

“What makes it worse is that to pay for this proposal, around nine million pensioners are going to lose their winter fuel allowance and all pensioners will see the value of their state pension fall once the triple lock is removed.

“This plan has completely failed to spread the risk and cost of social care across society as a whole, and in effect has left the burden on the shoulders of millions of older people and their families.

“It’s actually quite unbelievable that the Conservatives, who rely on the support of older voters, would make such a controversial and punitive proposal. They clearly have no intention of solving the social care crisis.”

The widespread outrage at May’s proposal — described in the press as the “dementia tax” —prompted a swift retreat from May.

Within four days May announced that there will be an “absolute limit” on how much people will have to pay for their social care in a watering down of her reform, announced at the party manifesto launch last Thursday (18th May).

But the Theresa May has denied the measure amounts to a U-turn, saying “nothing has changed”. Speaking at the launch of the Welsh Conservative taxmanifesto, May disclosed details of the cap, although she did not say what amount the upper limit would be — only that it would be part of a consultation.

But she still maintained that plans would stay in place to make all those with assets of more than £100,000 pay for social care in their own homes if they need it.

May then attacked Jeremy Corbyn for making “fake claims” about her proposals. She accused Corbyn of promoting “scaremongering and fear”.

May denied that there had been a change of direction and said she was simply clarifying the points in the manifesto, but details of a cap were not contained in the manifesto.

Sky’s Economic Editor Ed Conway said: “It’s pretty clear, when you look at the manifesto this was not there. It looks to have been ruled out, if not explicitly, then very much implicitly and lo and behold, it suddenly changed and a cap has been added in the last few hours, it seems.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “They haven’t said what the cap is. They haven’t explained to the millions of people, who are desperately worried at the moment about what kind of care they are going to get in the future, desperately worried for children as well about how their parents are going to be looked after. This is a government in chaos and confusion.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “This is May’s Manifesto Meltdown, in a matter of days she has gone from Margaret Thatcher to Corporal Jones. It’s more don’t panic Captain Mainwaring than strong and stable.

“Clearly, you cannot trust a word of Theresa May’s manifesto. As the lady is for turning, she now needs to U-turn on free school meals and her disastrous hard Brexit.”

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the giant union Unite, said: “This latest U-turn gives us an insight into life under Theresa May’s Tories: chaotic and cruel.

“It is astonishing that with a little over two weeks to go the general election, Tory policy on social care has collapsed. For those caring for their elderly parents or for retirees worrying about their future, the Tories have brought further worry and little hope of secure, quality care in old age. The dementia tax is a sorry echo of those other hated Tory taxes — the poll tax and the bedroom tax — and is a reminder that under the Tories, life is always tougher for working people.

“Only Labour offers any clarity now on social care, pledging to create a national care service to deliver dignity for all our elderly.”