Sunday 21 May 2017

The dementia tax manifesto

A gaggle of protesters were trudging along by the side of the road waving hand-written placards yesterday. They nearly caused a pile-up. What was written on the cards? “Cuts to winter fuel!” “Cuts to school dinners!” “Cuts to social care!” 
I assume they were critics, rather than advocates, of said ‘Cuts’. Or rather, critics of the Tory manifesto.

I haven’t said much about the GE to date because I’m sure any observations I might make would deviate from from the business of the BBC’s bias and end up being another general rant. Which you don’t need. However I think the political programmes I’ve seen and heard on the BBC today will keep me focused.
Number one on the agenda is of course the so-called dementia tax. Damian Green looked uncomfortable during Andrew Marr’s interrogation, and so he jolly well should. Andrew Marr did a good job of unpicking the incongruity of Theresa May’s attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of Jeremy Corbyn. The dementia tax is a manifesto pledge that must be very hard to defend. “At least she’s being honest” is not a very persuasive tack to take.

The feeble attempt by Theresa’s spin doctors to portray this proposal as an improvement isn’t the real issue for me. “We’re allowing you to keep £100,000 instead of a measly £23,000” won’t wash. Including the value of your house as an asset when calculating your contribution to home care doesn’t seem much of an improvement. I think you’re already required to sell your home, if necessary, to fund residential care, but you could hardly be expected to sell your home to fund home-care, could you? The clue is in the title. It would have to be called ‘out-on-your-ear’ care.   Instead they propose to slap unlimited charges against your legacy at-the-point-of-death.
As a parent of slightly higher than the average number of potential beneficiaries from this family’s accumulated wealth (house) (which will be spread thin) who are set to become victims of this policy, I can see nothing but long and short-term disincentives and negative knock-on effects from this proposal. 

My God, how I wish we’d bloody spent your inheritance before we went doolally. 

However, it’s the inconsistency of the principle that baffles and troubles me most. 
How is the principle they’re applying to the proposed ‘death’ tax in any way consistent with the hallowed principle of the NHS, ‘free at the point of need’ and founded on shared responsibility?   

The inconsistency is not confined to the contradictory principles of the new, hastily dreamt-up, pay-for-your-own-care policy, and that of universal ‘free at the point of need’ health-care. Those principles are diametrically opposed to each other, but what about the inconsistencies within the NHS? 
How can it be fair that we are required to share, collectively, the burden of ‘lifestyle choice’ illnesses, (drug and alcohol addiction, bad food etc) but when the inevitable process of ageing itself gets expensive, you’re on yer own. Mate. 
Something needs a radical re-think, and haphazardly tinkering round the edges of the structural failure that many NHS employees complain of, isn’t the way. 

It’s bizarre. We have a situation where we see the Tory party (Damian Green) defending a leftist, policy-of-envy policy: “Let the stinking rich pay for their own care-related needs” and the socialists criticising it (as John McDonnell and Peter Dowd did this morning) effectively defending the traditional Conservative argument around penalising the wealthy, (it stifles incentive and aspiration’) 
They even found themselves defending the universal (winter fuel) benefit……. even if it happens to go to Bernie Ecclestone and Lord Sugahh.

What about Labour’s ‘Robin Hood / ‘tax the rich to fund the rest of us’ policies that underlie their own manifesto?
What is going on? Have they actually swapped sides? Is Theresa May so focused on stealing votes from Labour that she’s  willing to become Labour?

When questioned by Andrew Marr as to whether the Conservatives might be forced to change their minds on this potentially election-losing policy, Damian Green’s emphatic “no” might be the undoing of him. And David Gauke and the inventors of the toxic dementia tax. I kinda hope so.

See? I’ve deviated from Andrew Marr and Andrew Neil already, just as I feared I would.


At least it seems there will be a ‘cap’ - albeit something for future governments to tinker with according to economic and political circumstances.
Perhaps a reluctant vote for Theresa might now be a little bit more than just a decisive vote against Jeremy?


  1. Agree - this proposal is shocking in its inconsistency. That this is being offered as a 'solution' to our social care crisis is only a source of dismay, and evidence that those in leadership do not have the answers.

    Even if there is an argument to be made to raise funds, there are far more equitable ways of doing so, even if you wish to raise these funds from inheritance tax. Instead, we have a policy where the tax rate is set by the lottery of life.

    And is this the best way to determine policy? Design behind closed doors, announce ceremonially, then defend with inflexibility, lest any concession been seen as 'weakness'.

    1. THe public will back rational policies addressing real problems. There should be a compulsory insurance scheme for all people aged from 50-70 to cover social care costs. I think there would be a lot of backing for that.

    2. There is. It's called National Insurance. These people have paid taxes and NI all their lives: paying for pensions and elderly care for those who came before. A synchronic form of insurance.

      Now they are being penalised and asked to pay twice. Why should one illness be treated any differently to another?

      It's farcical. Either tax ALL forms of inheritance to pay for it or leave them alone! They have suffered enough!

    3. There are many demands on young families that weren't there a few years ago (digital bundles to mention one). NI is a nonsense...a tax that pretends not to be a tax, but is not levied older people's income. I think social care for the elderly is a big enough issue to have its own funding stream focussed on the 50-70 year olds - the people who should be most thinking about it and who are best able to pay the insurance premiums.

      The government could open the insurance scheme to competition - see if firms, coops building socieites etc will administer it more cheaply than the government can.

  2. Well if Corbyn won't see through the New Labour Project someone must pick up the reins...

    ... I'm just waiting for the EU Associate Membership Deal, we pay the bills, take in their poor, obey the rules, we just don't get to have any say anymore! Forty more years of 'it doesn't matter who you vote for' politics.

  3. Surely there were enough reasons already to avoid voting Conservative in the forthcoming election with the accelerating decline of the NHS and associated care services, the (quite visible) increase in homelessness etc? There's also the decline in our Armed Forces under the "party of defence", now likely incapable of being able to fight a war and the party "most trusted with the economy" overseeing a massive increase in the UK's deficit (and for what improvement?). HMRC remains in decline. Where's the positives?

    Yet this abysmal and shameful record is going to be encouraged and rewarded with another term in office and a likely increased majority (perhaps the biggest joke is that the "anti-establishment vote" for Brexit will be resolved by THE party of the establishment).

    I don't want to vote for Commissar Corbyn but I can't reward this rabble of self-serving failures either.

  4. "At least it seems there will be a ‘cap’ - albeit something for future governments to tinker with according to economic and political circumstances.
    Perhaps a reluctant vote for Theresa might now be a little bit more than just a decisive vote against Jeremy?"

    Any vote for Theresa, "reluctant" or otherwise is a vote for continuing decline in all that mentioned above. Oh and education, I forgot that one. Schools up and down the country about to cut hours and/or teachers. Exactly what we need to be more competitive! So, the Conservatives, traditionally the party to go to if you want a strong and stable education policy, a strong and stable Armed Forces and a strong and stable handling of the economy...none of these things are true any more.


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