Theresa May's geriatric loan scheme

Costs for the elderly could soon increase. Credit: PA

For a Prime Minister who shuns risks, Theresa May's manifesto (be in no doubt, it is all about her, not her party) is not without its more contentious policies.

Obviously the policy she was most anxious about was her plan to massively increase the number of people who pay for their social care - which is why it was briefed overnight to newspapers to get the bad news out of the way, before her big day today in Yorkshire to launch her entire programme for government.

The new costs for the elderly will be manifold: state-provided help in the home will no longer be free; the value of the family home will count towards the means test for care even if one partner or both in a marriage still lives there, which is not the case now; and some of the costs of care will be financed by ending the universality of the winter fuel allowance and providing it only to poorer households.

The winter fuel allowance will now be means tested. Credit: PA

Or to put it another way, more-or-less everyone will have to pay for their care in some way or other - either with their income, if they are lucky enough to have enough, or by running down their assets, which would include transferring to the Exchequer some of the value of the family home.

To be clear, it is not all financial pain for older people: the government will guarantee that no one will be forced to deplete their wealth or assets to less than £100,000 - which is a big sum for most - and no one will be forced to sell the family home to pay for social care costs.

Or to put it another way, the government will effectively lend elderly people the costs of their social care, and get the money back when they die, from the sale of the home.

It is a sort of geriatric version of the student loan scheme - though the quality of the loans to the elderly will be much higher than for student loans, because they will be secured against real assets (our houses and flats).

The government will effectively lend elderly people the costs of their social care. Credit: PA

How will elderly voters, who are disproportionately Tories and May fans, react?

Well they will hardly be jubilant that it will be harder for them to shelter their wealth from the costs of their care needs.

But if they are lucky enough to have assets of £100,000 or more - which is the cohort who will pay - they are not natural Labour fans.

And a few might even be Tory enough to believe that those who can pay and take responsibility for their care needs should indeed pay.