A government minister did not rule out the possibility of people having to sell their homes to fund their own social care amid a backbench rebellion over plans to scale back a cap on costs.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) caused alarm on Thursday when it revealed it would calculate the £86,000 cap on lifetime care costs in a way that could leave tens of thousands of England’s poorest pensioners paying the same as wealthier people.
With MPs due to vote on the proposal on Monday evening, some expressed hope that the government would make a last-minute concession in the face of increasingly rebellious backbenchers who fear a backlash from constituents.
Pressed on whether some people would have to sell their homes to pay for care, despite Boris Johnson’s pledge that his policy meant they would not, the business minister Paul Scully told Sky News: “There will be fewer people selling their houses and hopefully none.”
He continued: “I can’t tell you what individuals are going to do. What I’m saying is the social care solution is all about getting a cap above which you do not need to pay – that gives people certainty.”
Asked again whether some people receiving care may have to sell up under the proposals, he said: “It will depend on different circumstances.
“If you hit the cap you will not have to pay any more money for your personal care – I think that is a fair, balanced approach for taxpayers and people who are having to pay for what is a really expensive, at the moment, form of care through social care.”
In 2019, the then health secretary Matt Hancock promised that a Conservative government will ensure that nobody who needs social care will have to sell their home to pay for it.
Matt Hancock made the vow as he teased a “three-point plan” to address the “ever-increasing” pressures on Britain’s social care system ahead of the December general election.
He said: “We will consider a range of options, but we will have one red line: we will protect the family home.”
Arguing that passing on a family home was “a fundamental human instinct”, the Cabinet minister promised that the Tories would guarantee no social care user would have to sell their home to meet their costs.
“We all want to be able to pass something to future generations. And it breaks my heart to hear stories of people who have worked hard all their life being forced to sell their home to pay for their care.
“So the third point of our plan for social care will be, without exception, that it must guarantee that no one needing care will have to sell their home to pay for it.”