MPs reject rethink of £86,000 care cap despite Tory backbench criticism plan is regressive

The Government’s planned £86,000 cap on personal care cost contributions is “regressive” and a “classic policy of levelling down”, ministers have been told.

Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) also warned that the cap would have a disproportionate impact on regions in the North with “lower assets and lower wealth”.

But despite criticism from the Conservative backbenches, the Commons voted 247 to 150, majority 97, to reject calls to rethink the planned cap.

A proposal by the House of Lords would have required ministers to implement the original plan for a cap drawn up by Sir Andrew Dilnot, who led a review into the future of funding social care under the coalition government.

Health minister Edward Argar urged MPs to overturn proposals from the Lords to rethink the cap.

Mr Argar (pictured) said: “We believe the fairest version of the cap is for it to be based on what people contribute to their care rather than counting local authority contributions as well.

“It simply can’t be fair that two people living in different parts of the country contributing the same amount progress towards the cap at different rates based on differences their individual local authorities are paying.”

Conservative MP Peter Aldous (Waveney), intervening, said: “The Government’s plans compared to the original proposals in the 2014 Care Act are regressive, being less equitable to those with moderate levels of assets including those living with dementia and working-age adults with disabilities.”

Mr Argar said the measures in the 2014 legislation were never implemented as they were never judged to be financially sustainable or deliverable, adding of the new approach: “These proposals, while no proposal is perfect, are a dramatic improvement in terms of the protections offered compared to the crippling care costs which many face under the existing regime.”

Conservative MP Mr Hollinrake told the Commons said he could not support the Government, describing the favoured £86,000 cap a “classic policy of levelling down, not levelling up”.

He added: “The minister said we are making these changes to make it sustainable. Well, OK, make it sustainable, but you have got to make it fair when you make it sustainable. And I don’t believe this is fair. And I know we are comparing this with a system that never existed, of course, he is right to say that, but nevertheless it was proposed.”

Mr Hollinrake noted “the specific change we have made” would affect people with “limited assets, limited wealth”, adding: “So, we are balancing this on people of lower assets, lower wealth, and that applies to households and it also applies to areas because some of the regions we represent in the North do tend to have lower assets and lower wealth.”

Shadow health minister Karin Smyth said: “The department has sneaked out the view that restricting contributions to the cap to those means-tested to their care charges would save an estimated £900 million by 2027/28 in cash terms.

“There’s time to look at this properly and we are willing to work with the Government to do just that.

“Let’s be clear, if that’s the true estimate then that’s what the Treasury is talking about saving from the poorest – those working-age adults with a disability and older people with fewer assets, that’s where that money comes from.”

The division list showed that eight Conservative MPs voted against the Government, and in favour of the Lords’ rethink on the care cap.

They were former health minister Jeremy Hunt, Peter Aldous (Waveney), Mr Hollinrake, Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Andrew Lewer (Northampton South), Jason McCartney (Colne Valley), Holly Mumby-Croft (Scunthorpe) and Derek Thomas (St Ives).

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