Sat, 25 May 2024

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Dementia tax 'hidden from key Cabinet ministers' until just before Tory manifesto launch

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

The Cabinet ministers responsible for social care were kept in the dark about the so-called ‘dementia tax’ until the day before it was announced, it has been reported.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt were informed of the centrepiece Tory manifesto pledge less than 24 hours before the document was launched, BBC Newsnight said.

Tory MP George Freeman, Theresa May’s former top policy adviser, branded the Tory campaign a “catastrophe”.

According to the plan set out in the manifesto, payment for residential or at-home social care would come from people’s estates until they were down to their last £100,000 in assets.

But it was met with anger among Tory target voters on the doorstep and Theresa May was forced into a humiliating U-turn - announcing care bills would be capped.

According to BBC Newsnight the policy was drawn up in the Cabinet Office instead of in the Department for Communities or the Department for Health, as it normally would be.

Cabinet Minister Ben Gummer - who had a big hand in penning the Tory manifesto - had been working on a Green Paper set for publication for later in the year which contained the care plan.

Other areas of the manifesto saw consultation with Cabinet ministers, but they only got sight of the full document shortly before its launch and just 20 minutes before the press did.

George Freeman - who chairs the Prime Minister’s policy board - told Newsnight: "This was a catastrophe of a campaign and I wouldn't expect necessarily in a snap election it gets signed off by cabinet and it goes through a series of negotiations presumably and discussions.

"So I wouldn't expect to be holding the pen on the last draft. But I didn't see any draft. And I think there was a culture in the campaign of 'we the five or six of us are going to do this'."

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