Theresa May’s Dementia Tax (2)

by Andrew Stuttaford

Some early reactions to Theresa May’s dementia tax proposal:

From the (Tory) Bow Group:

“These proposals will mean that the majority of property owning citizens could be transferring the bulk of their assets to the government upon death for care they have already paid a lifetime of taxes to receive. It is a tax on death and on inheritance. It will mean that in the end, the government will have taken the lion’s share of a lifetime earnings in taxes. If enacted, it is likely to represent the biggest stealth tax in history and when people understand that they will be leaving most of their estate to the government, rather than their families, the Conservative Party will experience a dramatic loss of support.” 

From the Financial Times:

Theresa May is facing a growing Conservative backlash against her plans to reform funding for social care, with critics claiming she is introducing a “dementia tax” that could amount to a 100 per cent inheritance tax rate for core Tory voters. Conservative MPs voiced concern about the proposal, a flagship element of the Tory election manifesto, while the Bow Group rightwing think-tank warned that “the anger will be horrendous” once middle-class voters grasped what it meant. Mrs May’s proposal would require elderly people receiving social care to fund the entire cost, until they reached their last £100,000 of assets which the state would allow them to keep.

Tory MP Bob Blackman said: “Clearly, there needs to be a limit on how much any individual or family should be required to pay.” Another MP told the Financial Times: “It’s a bit of a turkey on the doorstep. Everybody likes the cap.”

Labour, which has been rising in the polls but still trails the Tories by 18 points, according to the FT poll tracker, sees Mrs May’s surprisingly tough stance towards the elderly — traditional Tory supporters — as an opportunity…..

And so it is.

Given the alternatives that the electorate has  to choose from, it’s highly unlikely that this revolting proposal will cost May re-election, but opposition to it has given Labour a cause with genuine cross-party appeal, something that it has lacked so far. And its appeal will resonate with the elderly, a constituency that turns out  to vote in large numbers and leans strongly Conservative. This is not a constituency (you would think) that May would choose to attack in the run-up to an election. But that’s just what she’s done. 

May’s dementia tax is not only staggeringly bad policy, it is staggeringly bad politics.

Hubris will do that.

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