Rich should save for own social care, says former prime minister

Wealthy people should not expect the state to pay for all their social care needs, Theresa May has said.

At a lunch for Westminster journalists, the former prime minister criticised what she described as a “concept” that “whatever problem you have, somebody else will pay for it”.

She said: “I think there’s a very difficult discussion to be had with the public about social care because there is that assumption.”

The issue of social care proved highly damaging for Mrs May during the 2017 election, when she was forced into a U-turn mid-campaign after Labour branded her proposals a “dementia tax”.

On Thursday, she acknowledged that her party had not “rolled the pitch” for the proposals, and it had been a “mistake” to insist that nothing had changed following the U-turn.

But she added that there were “real challenges” that needed to be addressed “at some stage in the coming years”, saying: “Why should somebody who is perhaps sitting in a house which has a significant value expect the family that are on average earnings and struggling to make ends meet pay for that person’s social care?”

Asked about her reflections on social care, she said people had “lost the sense” that they should “put some savings by for a rainy day to be able to look after themselves when they were in difficulties”.

Social care reform has been a fraught issue for politicians of all parties as Britain’s ageing population places further strain on local authority budgets.

In March, MPs on the Commons Public Accounts Committee warned that reform plans had once again gone awry, with the Department of Health and Social Care failing to provide the sector with adequate leadership.

The department said it was committed to reforming social care and had invested up to £8.6 billion over two years to help deal with the pressures on the sector.

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