Boris Johnson has been warned not to take the support of his MPs for granted as he faces a back bench rebellion over controversial plans to lower the welfare ceiling after a tumultuous 14 days in Westminster.
The Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) raised the alarm on Thursday when it announced it would calculate the Â£ 85,000 cap on lifelong care costs in such a way that tens of thousands of England’s poorest retirees would pay 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 amid increasingly angry backbenchers who feared voter backlash.
Christian Wakeford, MP for Bury South, expressed his anger that plans appear to have been changed since MPs voted in September to support the Â£ 12 billion a year health and welfare tax that the policy is using will be paid.
“If we change the goal posts again halfway through the game, it is not convenient for me and many colleagues,” he said and warned the government: “It is not a matter of course that we just go.” Go through the same lobby“.
Several backbenchers told the Guardian they are considering voting against the government’s proposed method of calculating the welfare ceiling. A former minister said they were “very concerned” about the details of how the cap worked and it was “clear from the start that if you looked at the details, it was out of rhetoric”. Johnson has repeatedly said he will “fix” social welfare.
Another former minister said that as the rebellion appeared to be picking up pace, they hoped the government would be ready to make a last minute concession. Some MPs are also considering supporting other amendments, including one by Jeremy Hunt calling on the NHS to do better staff planning.
Robert Buckland, the former attorney general, became the senior Tory who publicly said he did not want to support the Social Security ceiling changes on Sunday and told LBC, “I think the government should look again.”
He said asking MPs to vote on the proposals before further details were published in the promised White Paper on Social Welfare means the government is in danger of “putting the cart before the horse.”
Many Conservative MPs remain angry about their treatment by number 10 in the Owen Paterson affair when they were dragged into Johnson’s botched attempt to protect the disgraced former MP.
The government announced Thursday that the means-tested support families they receive with their care will not count towards the Â£ 85,000 grand total, meaning those with relatively modest wealth can still imagine paying that amount in full.
Torsten Bell, director of the resolution foundation think tank, said the government is risking “turning very good news about long overdue social reform into a major political headache.”
He said, âThis seemingly tech-savvy change is having very real implications, leaving people with fewer assets far less protected than previously planned. Changing the upper limit on care costs to something that only benefits households with substantial wealth, who live disproportionately in the south, is obviously not the way to get the equalization going again after last week’s trauma. “
Many Conservative Red Wall MPs had already reacted with anger last week to the government’s integrated rail plan, which is far less ambitious than repeated promises by the Prime Minister would suggest.
Sajid Javid defended the social plans on Sunday, saying that while they were less generous than the proposals made by economist Sir Andrew Dilnot, who first developed the cap, they would still do “what we said is to protect”. To free people from the cost of catastrophic care bills by capping them at Â£ 86,000 â.
The Minister of Health pointed out that one in seven people had care bills in excess of Â£ 86,000 and said a new, more generous means test meant that “everyone, anywhere in the country, will be better off under the new proposals”. that we have set up compared to the current system â.
But Dilnot, who originally proposed the cap a decade ago, was disappointed with the government’s approach. âThe people hardest hit by this change are people with assets of exactly Â£ 106,000. But anyone with a fortune less than Â£ 186,000 would do less well on what the government is proposing than what we were proposing, âhe told MPs last week.
Shadow Care Secretary Liz Kendall urged Conservative MPs to support Labor in opposing the change in Monday’s vote. “You can’t sell this to voters: they are being slapped in their pockets to protect the mansions of millionaires,” she said.
Daisy Cooper, Lib Dems spokeswoman for health and social affairs, said, âThese social plans are two broken promises in one. Boris Johnson promised in his manifesto not to increase social security tax and that no one would have to sell their house to pay for maintenance.
“Now families are in trouble, plagued by unfair tax hikes while still facing the loss of their home to pay for care costs.”
When asked if the government would break its manifest promise that “no one in need of care should be forced to sell their house to pay for it,” Javid said people could “plan for the future.” if they knew their total cost was no more than Â£ 86,000.
He added that no one would have to sell their home while they were alive due to payment deferral agreements. These have existed in many parts of the country for several years and enable patients to incur a debt for their care that can be paid from their estate after their death.
Whitehall sources blamed Chancellor Rishi Sunak for both the less generous social policies and the scaled-down railroad plans, with the Treasury Department flexing its muscles across the government.
However, the Treasury Department insists that it was not involved in working out the details of the nursing cost ceiling and that it is up to the DHSC to decide how to proceed within its budget.