Theresa May will be wondering why she broke her early election strategy of just saying nothing and encouraging Diane Abbott to do Maths on the radio. The furious response to the so-called dementia tax led to a rather un-strong and unstable u-turn. The proposal is now that pensioners will stop paying for their own care once their savings and assets are down to £100,000. At present only £23,250 is protected.
Also proposed is that a person’s home will be counted among their assets when they are means-tested for care in their home (currently this only applies to people needing residential care) meaning more people will pay. No-one will have to sell their home during their lifetime, as they will be able to borrow money which will be paid back from their estate after their death. The mechanics of which won’t be fun.
Whatever the outcome of this election, the next Government is going to have to tackle this issue which is a thankless and unwinnable task for anyone. By 2050, there will 17 million pensioners in the UK. (That’s one big army of oldies! That’s the entire population of the Netherlands, Zambia or Guatemala all jostling for that last scone in the John Lewis café.*) Average residential care home fees are about £30,000 a year. I tried to check 17 million times 30 grand on my iPhone but there were too many zeros to fit on the screen. You get the point. With an ageing population and care supply costs hit strongly by the rise in the minimum wage, this headache is not going to go away with quick lie-down. But tacking it mid-election was a curious move indeed.
Have a great weekend everyone. Good luck to all parents managing revision refuseniks this half-term. Let’s hope for a peaceful, sunny weekend for us all.
* Tongue-in-cheek! Aimed at those who still make silly stereotypical adverts showing pensioners holding hands and smiling at each other on cruise ships.