Boris Johnson has risked further angering Tory MPs by seemingly watering down a manifesto commitment with an admission that some people may need to sell a property to pay social costs.
The prime minister narrowly managed to get the Commons to support his new policy of limiting care costs in England as his majority was cut by conservative rebels and those who chose not to vote.
Backbenchers criticized changing the £ 86,000 cap to include only individual payments rather than local authority contributions, as doing so will cost poorer recipients more wealth than rich people.
Ahead of Monday night’s vote, Downing Street declined to say whether the reforms would deliver on a Tory pledge in the recent general election to ensure “no one should be forced to sell their home to pay for it” .
But Mr Johnson has apparently downgraded the obligation by telling his cabinet that “no one will be forced to sell a house that he or his spouse lives in as it is not counted as an asset,” according to the No. 10 about the meeting on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted the policy was the “right approach” when asked if the remark was an admission that some might have to sell their homes to pay for maintenance.
He also said there was “no intention” of changing policy with yet another U-turn as it fueled resentment in the back benches following the Owen Paterson affair.
Ministers prevented a possible defeat in the lower house as MPs backed the government change with a majority of 26.
But that was a big cut in the prime minister’s working majority of around 80 MPs as 19 Conservatives, including former Cabinet Secretary Esther McVey and former chief whip Mark Harper, rebelled to oppose the plans.
Senior Conservative William Wragg and NHS doctor Dan Poulter were also among the Tories who voted against the change, as were Christian Wakeford and Mark Jenkinson, two MPs who captured former Labor strongholds in the north for the Tories.
In September, the government announced that a cap on lifelong care costs of £ 86,000 would be introduced from October 2023.
However, a policy paper last week showed that only personal contributions count towards this cap for those receiving financial support from a local authority for part of their care.
Experts say this means that poorer people reach the ceiling faster than richer people and therefore more wealth is consumed by care costs.
The Resolution Foundation think tank warned that people in the north and Yorkshire are most at risk, that their wealth is being “wiped out by care costs,” and said the changes decided on Monday would make reforms worse.
Harper said it may put the less affluent and working-age people at a disadvantage with lifelong conditions.
Bury South MP Mr Wakeford said he was uncomfortable with the “move the goalposts” change, while Baron John of Basildon expressed the Tory Banks “concerns about the distribution of relative losses and concerns that the the less affluent to be hit are “stressed hardest by the government change tonight”.
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