Rishi Sunak warned not to axe social care cap as he looks for savings

Charities have warned Rishi Sunak not to axe the scheduled social care cap as he considers further delaying Boris Johnson’s policy to avoid deeper cuts elsewhere.

The Prime Minister (pictured) was reviewing whether to delay the plans by two years to 2025, Whitehall officials confirmed on Thursday, amid fears it could be put off indefinitely.

Mr Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt were considering putting off the £86,000 lifetime cap as they look for tax rises and spending cuts worth up to £60 billion in the autumn budget.

Delaying the former prime minister’s flagship policy was thought to save £1 billion in the first year, and up to £3 billion a year if scrapped entirely.

However, Mr Sunak could face allegations of breaking the 2019 Tory manifesto pledge to stop people having to sell their homes to cover the costs of social care.

The Times, which first reported the possible delay, said Mr Sunak raised the prospect of an “indefinite” delay last week before accepting an initial two-year postponement.

Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary who is a close ally of Mr Johnson, said she was “v surprised” by the possible delay, suggesting it would create a minimal saving for what are “desperately needed reforms”.

The Alzheimer’s Society warned ministers they “must not roll back on the care cap”, which they described as a “crucial first step to tackle catastrophic care costs”.

Director of advocacy and system change Mark MacDonald said a delay would be a “damaging blow” to people with dementia as they are hit with soaring bills.

“Successive governments have promised to properly address the social care system yet we don’t appear to be any further towards tackling this national crisis,” he said.

“Not investing in social care is a false economy which not only adds to the uncertainty and distress felt by those using the system, but places even greater pressure on the NHS.

“The Government must prioritise dementia, prioritise social care and think again.”

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams warned of a “lost decade” if Mr Hunt does kill the policy during his November 17 statement.

“If the Chancellor does announce next week that he is kicking it into the long grass, probably to disappear altogether, it will mean we have endured a lost decade or more where social care is concerned,” she said.

“Whether the proposed cap is delayed or abandoned or is implemented as currently planned, it is no substitute for a proper process of reform that ensures everyone who has care needs receives a decent service, tailored to their individual needs.”

Mr Johnson had boasted of the policy as one of his great achievements during his time in office, which was cut short by a ministerial revolt after a series of scandals.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had branded the cap a “working class dementia tax” because poorer families face losing proportionally more of their assets than wealthier ones.

The cap on care spending in England was due to be introduced in October next year.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA.