As Care Minister, Norman Lamb (and his Liberal Democrat predecessor) were pivotal in ensuring that the cap for care costs was introduced. The Conservatives have now delayed its implementation by 4 long years. Norman described this as an “outrageous betrayal of people at their most weak and most frail. He said:
This an extraordinary and devastating u-turn from the Tories and an outrageous betrayal of people at their most weak and most frail with conditions like dementia.
Crippling care costs need addressing urgently. In coalition we designed a solution that would help and was affordable. Local authorities have spent millions already preparing for the introduction of the cap, yet we now hear the Tories are turning their back on it. This delay is a total waste of public money.
The distress and heartbreak that people feel when a loved one is in care, is being exacerbated by the fear of how to pay for it. We must not allow this to continue.
Be in no doubt, this is not a delay. The Tories are abandoning the cap. George Osborne never supported this, and Labour were only half hearted in support. The cap was only secured because Liberal Democrats negotiated it in coalition.
There’s no possibility that the finances of social care will be any easier in 2020. They have broken a clear promise in their manifesto within weeks of grabbing power on their own and decided to prioritise tax cuts for the wealthy.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader warned of the “dire consequences” of the delay:
I am appalled that, the moment the Liberal Democrats leave government, the Tories have kicked our plans to cap lifetime care costs into the long grass.
Liberal Democrats in government fought to reform the way social care is funded, to help ease the burden of long term care costs on the elderly, their families and carers.
With an ageing population in Wales, the need to secure a sustainable system for paying for care has never been more urgent. Yet the Welsh Labour Government has said it will sit back and wait for the reforms to first happen in England. This means that we will see no long term reform until post 2020, which will have dire consequences for many elderly people in Wales and their families.
The care cap was to be met largely by freezing the inheritance tax threshold at £325,000, which George Osborne has now announced he will raise to £500,000. It is no wonder that the care cap cannot be funded when the Tories are giving the wealthy a windfall tax break which the Lib Dems blocked in government.
We need a fair and sustainable system where people no longer live in fear of losing nearly everything they own to pay for care and it is time for the Welsh Labour Government to lay out a plan for Wales. Using the excuse of a lack of money doesn’t wash when the Welsh Government can still find millions of pounds to buy an airport on a whim.