Controversial ‘dementia tax’, underfunding of NHS and university fees dominate the UK election – Brexit less important

GD/AD – 06/2017

Instead of increasing the number of seats held in the British House of Commons, the early election on 8 June resulted in massive losses for the Conservative Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May. Independent observers agree that the risk of calling an early election was not supported by a convincing campaign strategy. The promise of a strong Britain in a difficult Brexit was almost completely ignored by voters who were more concerned with other issues. Social policy in the Conservative Manifesto – a litany of cost-saving measures in the already underfunded NHS and in council nursing care for dementia patients – was the main focus of the election campaign.  

‘Dementia tax’ instead of ‘my home is my castle’

At the moment, councils pay for a person’s social care if they have less than £23,250 (around €26,500) in assets. The manifesto proposed increasing this limit to £100,000 (around €114,000). Currently, a person’s own home is only counted towards this limit if they are in a nursing home. The manifesto goes as far as proposing to include the value of a home for the many people who are receiving in-home care. Given the enormous house prices in England, particularly the astronomical prices in London, this is about theoretical values because most senior citizens do not have that much money in their pockets. It strikes at the very heart of Britain’s people where 'my home is my castle.' 

The existing regulation also has strict rules regarding needs assessment; however, they do not go as far. Even people living in residential care can delay paying for their care. This was done because many people do not have much cash or assets other than their home. After a person’s death, the costs of their care must be paid by the heirs of the estate or by selling the property. The dream of many people of leaving their home to their children or grandchildren fades away to nothing, especially at a time when first-time homebuyers without much money have virtually no chance of entering the real estate market. The manifesto, which had been quickly hobbled together before the election, intended to extend this ‘expropriation’ to people who receive care in their own home.