Peers demand rethink on social care costs cap voting instead to back original Sir Andrew Dilnot plan
Peers have inflicted defeats against the Government over its planned £86,000 cap on care costs.
The House of Lords backed by 198 votes to 158, majority 40, a cross-party move to strip the provision out of the Health and Care Bill, aimed at securing a rethink by ministers.
Members went on to support by 187 to 143, majority 44, a measure proposed by Tory former health secretary Lord Lansley, requiring ministers to implement the original plan for a cap drawn up by Sir Andrew Dilnot (pictured), who led a review into the future of funding social care.
This had been rejected by the Government as “unaffordable”.
The Tory frontbench setbacks on the key reform sets the stage for a legislative tussle, known as parliamentary ping-pong, between the upper chamber and elected house, where the Government has a majority.
But Boris Johnson faces the prospect of another rebellion by his own MPs on the plan when it returns to the Commons.
Critics have warned the move to count only individual payments towards the cap, and not local authority contributions, would cost poorer people more in assets than the wealthy.
Labour frontbencher Baroness Wheeler branded the Government’s proposed cap a “last-minute, hastily scraped together, ill-thought-through mish-mash”.
She said: “Its deletion would restore the full provisions on the cap.
“It means reconsideration of how the cap should be implemented, not whether it will be implemented.
“The cap set at £86,000 is set too high to benefit the majority of people that need to be protected.
“The bombshell of abandoning the key safeguarding Dilnot principle of enabling local authority care costs to count and accrue towards the cap means that poorer people will be exposed to the same care costs as the very wealthiest in society.
“Despite the proposal that nobody should have to sell their home, the fact is that someone with assets of £100,000 will lose almost everything, while someone with assets worth £1 million and over will keep almost everything.”
Former Labour health minister Lord Warner, who served on the Dilnot Commission, said the Government’s cap “has major unfairnesses and shortcomings”.
Referring to the provision, he said: “This is a deficient clause and no reasonable person would see it as actually a fair and reasonable implementation of the Dilnot proposals on the cap.”
Liberal Democrat Baroness Walmsley said: “The fairly small savings the Government might make under these measures, unless they are amended, would be paid for by the most vulnerable people. For a Government who says that its ambition is to level up across the country, that’s unworthy.”
Responding, health minister Lord Kamall said: “The £86,000 level set for the cap, we believe, balances personal responsibility for planning for their later years with a need to put in place a system to ensure nobody faces unpredictable costs.”
Referring to the change proposed by peers, he said: “Instead progress towards a cap would be based on both individual and local authority contributions to care costs. This policy is unfair but it’s also considered unaffordable.”
He said it would increase the cost of the reforms by about £900 million a year.
“The Government’s reform package is… affordable and deliverable,” he added.
In other defeats, peers demanded safeguards over the discharge of patients from hospital, including ensuring the consultation of carers, and backed measures to retain the “safe haven” for NHS data.
The Lords also supported a move to prevent coroners being able to access confidential “safe space” information collected by healthcare investigators.
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