Tory climbdown on social care plan as May announces cap on costs

Mrs May 'clarified' her party's social care plan
  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan

Theresa May has said the Conservatives will include a cap on costs in a consultation over the party's controversial social care plans.

The prime minister's announcement is a significant reversal after the plan, which will see people pay for their own care until their combined savings and property value falls to £100,000, was attacked as a "dementia tax".

Speaking in Wrexham, Mrs May insisted that the principles set out in the Conservative manifesto remained the same, but said there would an "absolute limit" to social care costs.

"This manifesto says we will come forward with a consultation paper ... and that consultation will include an absolute limit on the amount people have to pay for their care costs," she said.

Responding to a question from ITV News correspondent Emily Morgan, the prime minister said there would be an "upper limit, an absolute limit, on the amount that people will pay for care".

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

Mrs May insisted the Tory plan remained a "good arrangement" that would effectively tackle the spiraling costs of social care, and sought to portray the cap commitment as a clarification made in response to "fake claims, fear and scaremongering" that she said had been put about by Jeremy Corbyn.

Asked by journalists about the "dementia tax", the prime minister shook her head repeatedly, saying: "I'm sorry, you are using terms that have been used by the Labour Party to try and scare people in this country."

But the prime minister's announcement is in effect a Tory U-turn.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dismissed Mrs May's claims that he was "scaremongering", saying: "I'm not playing on anybody's fears, I'm expressing the fears that a lot of people have.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dismissed Mrs May's claims that he was "scaremongering", saying: "I'm not playing on anybody's fears, I'm expressing the fears that a lot of people have.

"I suggest the Prime Minister, instead of blaming me, should look to herself and look to her team and look to the policy, or lack of policy, that's she's put forward. This isn't strong and stable, this is chaos."

He said it was a "triumph of spin over reality" because "you read what she has actually said and it is exactly the same as what they said last week but they are pretending it's something different".

Mrs May's climbdown follows what appears to have been a slide in the polls for the Conservatives, prompted by their social care proposal.

The plan has been roundly denounced by the other parties, with Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron predicting it "will be to Theresa May what the poll tax was to Margaret Thatcher".

Tim Farron has predicted the social care plan will be Mrs May's 'poll tax' Credit: PA

Mr Farron added: "This is a cold and calculated attempt to pull the wool over people's eyes. Theresa May still wants to take older people's homes to fund social care.

"Families deserve to know exactly how much of their homes would be up for grabs now, not after the election."

In a mark of just how concerned the Conservatives have grown over the way the policy is being seen, the party has paid for an advert on Google that pops up at the top of a search for the term "dementia tax".

The link takes the reader to a page on the Conservative party website that sets out "the facts" about the policy.

The Conservatives have paid for a Google advert that pops up during an internet search for 'dementia tax'

Labour have also bought an advert - it links through to a page attacking Mrs May's manifesto, with "Tory threat to pensioners" at the top.

And in an apparent sign that George Osborne, the former chancellor, was twisting the knife on the woman who sacked him, an Evening Standard editorial described her announcement as "an astonishing U-turn", and denounced a "weekend of wobbles" that had lead to a "hasty" change in tack.