Jeremy Hunt has admitted that the Tories are “dropping” a key 2015 election pledge on elderly care because they “don’t think it’s fair”.
After trying to shift the blame onto economist Andrew Dilnot, the Health Secretary conceded on Thursday that the Conservatives are abandoning a pledge they made two years ago to cap care costs.
Hunt’s comments come after Dilnot, author of the Dilnot Review into social care, lambasted the Conservatives’ plan to make more elderly people pay for social care.
The Tory manifesto will be unveiled later today. Under the social care plans those with more than £100,000 in assets will have to pay for their own care out of the value of their homes, rather than relying on the council to cover the costs of visiting care workers.
In 2015 the Tories said that costs would be limited to £72,000 for the over-65s.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Hunt said: “Not only are we dropping it (the pledge) but we are dropping it ahead of a General Election and we are being completely explicit in our manifesto that we’re dropping it.
“And we’re dropping it because we have looked again at this proposal and we don’t think it’s fair.
“The reason we don’t think it’s fair is because you could have a situation where someone who owns a house worth £1 million, £2 million, has expensive care costs of perhaps £100,000 or £200,000, ends up under that proposal not having to pay those care costs because they are capped and those costs get borne by taxpayers.”
Speaking earlier in the show, Dilnot said the new Tory plans showed “a less than full understanding of the problems”.
He said: “People will be left helpless, knowing that what will happen is that if they are unlucky enough to suffer the need for care costs they will be entirely on their own until they are down to the last £100,000 of all of their wealth including their house.”
Responding to Dilnot’s comments, Hunt asked “what is the alternative?”, before attempting to shift the blame and attribute the previous cap to the economist.
Presenter Nick Robinson retorted: “It was your proposal in your last manifesto. You promised to implement it and you passed a law to implement it.”
Hunt also denied that the new policy was effectively a “death tax”.
The Tory MP said it was “about fairness between the generations”, adding: “We are saying that the assets that you built up over your lifetime should be used for your own care costs but we’re saying.. whether that care is delivered at home or in a care home we will protect £100,000 that you will always be able to pass on.”