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PMQs Johnson's social care reforms branded a ‘working-class dementia tax’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accuses the PM of fronting a ‘pickpocketing operation’

BORIS JOHNSON is fronting a “pickpocketing operation” to introduce a “working-class dementia tax” via his social care reforms, Sir Keir Starmer charged today.

The Labour leader repeatedly pressed Mr Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) over whether people in England would have to sell their homes to pay for social care under the Tories’ plans. 

The government wants to introduce an £86,000 cap on lifetime care costs from October 2023, but a policy paper last week showed that only personal contributions would count towards that cap for people who received financial support from local authorities.

MPs, charities and economists warned this would mean that poorer people would take longer to reach the upper limit than those who were wealthier, and would therefore see more of their assets eaten up by care costs.

The PM just managed to get the proposals through the Commons on Monday night, but 19 Tories rebelled to reject the move and dozens more did not vote at all.  

Today, Sir Keir said: “It isn’t just broken promises, it’s also about fairness. Everyone needs protecting against massive health and care costs.

“But under his plan, someone with assets worth about £100,000 will lose almost everything yet somebody with assets of about £1 million will keep almost everything.

“He’s picked the pockets of working people to protect the estates of the wealthiest. How could he possibly have managed to devise a working-class dementia tax?”

In reply, the Tory leader claimed his proposals do “more for working people up and down the country than Labour ever did because we’re actually solving the problem that they failed to address” when in power. 

Sir Keir countered that working people were being asked to pay twice via increased National Insurance contributions from April, while those “living off wealth are protected.

“It’s a classic con game. A Covent Garden pickpocketing operation. The Prime Minister is the frontman, distracting people with wild promises and panto speeches while his Chancellor [Rishi Sunak] dips his hand in their pocket,” he said, echoing lines used by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves in her response to the Budget.

Labour later released research which it said showed the reforms would see two-thirds of average homeowners in the north of England and a third in the Midlands paying more for their care, while their counterparts in London and the south-east would be unaffected.

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