The Conservative Party’s “reckless” manifesto pledge could have devastating consequences for families in Brent. Sir Andrew Dilnot, a leading national expert who provided an independent report to the Government on social care has described the Tory proposals as the biggest stealth tax in history. Despite government previously saying they would consult with the public on the best way forward, this high-cost policy has come out of the blue. While many families from many backgrounds will be affected, South Asian communities, who often live together across generations, could be hit particularly hard, with Tory proposals leaving them at risk of becoming homeless.
At present, social care is means tested and the value of the property that people are living in is not taken into account as part of that calculation. The proposal announced in Theresa May’s Conservative manifesto will include the value of a person’s home. If this damaging policy goes ahead, equity in the family home will be eaten into and after the cared for individual passes away, the home will have to be sold. As too many families know, the costs of caring for someone with dementia can be catastrophic and with people living longer and dementia prevalence rising, more people will need social care for longer.
These proposals have not been properly thought through. They raise more questions, cause more problems and quite simply fail to deliver much needed solutions for the social care crisis. What happens if there is a partner still living in the property when the person receiving social care passes away? Will they have to be thrown out of their own home so the remaining social care bill can be paid? Even if the issue of property and living partners is resolved by delaying the debt payment until they have passed away too, the policies outlined in the manifesto will cause devastation to large sections of the Brent population and South Asian communities in particular.
In Brent and other areas, South Asian communities choose to live in the same family home and it is not uncommon for up to four generations of a family to be living in the same property. The housing crisis has also meant that families are even choosing to build and expand their home and live together rather than enter the housing market. It is ironic that the section of the manifesto that this proposal appears in is under the heading ‘a restored contract between the generations’ as their approach completely ignores the intergenerational dependencies of families who strive to care for each other.
When elderly relatives pass away after receiving social care, their children could find themselves homeless. The Tories say that families will be able to keep £100,000 of equity in the family home. The average price of a property in Brent is £535,803 meaning that their children will have to try and find on average £435,000 to try and keep their family home.
On top of bringing the social care system to the brink of collapse over the last seven years, the current Tory thinking looks to create even more problems rather than solutions to the crisis.