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Pensioners help fund social care in Tory plan

Theresa May will unveil a social care revolution in the Tory manifesto, paid for by axing winter fuel payments for wealthy pensioners.

The Prime Minister will claim social care is “one of the great challenges of our time” and pledge that no-one should have to sell their home to pay for it.

Assets will be protected up to £100,000, up from the current £23,250, as the Conservatives attempt to tackle the long-term challenges of an ageing society.

Also in the manifesto will be the PM’s controversial pledge to cut immigration to tens of thousands and plans to protect consumers from rip-offs by energy companies.

But Labour is claiming the Conservatives cannot be trusted on social care or other issues and has published a list of 50 broken promises by the Tories in the past two years.

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The Tories’ social care proposals would mean:

:: Winter Fuel Payments paid only to the least well-off pensioners, by means-testing the benefit, and transferring the money raised directly to health and social care.

:: As already happens with residential care, putting the home into the means-test for care at home.

:: Protecting people from the huge costs that can accumulate from elderly care, especially for long-term conditions such as dementia, by protecting assets up to £100,000, four times the current level of £23,250,.

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:: Making sure no one, no matter what their condition or the costs of their care, has to sell their home within their lifetime, or the lifetime of their surviving partner if they live together, by extending deferred payment agreements to home care.

:: Improving co-operation between the NHS and the care system, relieving unnecessary and sometimes unhealthy stays in hospital.

:: The right to request unpaid leave from work to care for a relative for up to a year.

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In her foreword to the manifesto, called “Forward, Together”, the Prime Minister says: “This manifesto sets out a vision for Britain’s future – not just for the next five years, but beyond.”

“The next five years are the most challenging that Britain has faced in my lifetime. Brexit will define us: our place in the world, our economic security and our future prosperity.

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“Now more than ever, Britain needs a strong and stable government to get the best deal for our country. Now more than ever, Britain needs a strong and stable leadership to make the most of the opportunities that Brexit brings.”

She added: “Above all, it will require a unity of purpose stretching across this precious union of nations, from north to south and east to west. For as we embark on the momentous journey ahead of us over the next few years, our shared values, interests and ambitions can – and must – bring us together as a united country.”

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But accusing the Conservatives of breaking previous election promises, Labour’s election coordinator Andrew Gwynne said: “As the Conservatives make their latest solemn pledge there’s one thing we must bear in mind: we’ve been here before.

“Theresa May pretends otherwise, but she is a politician with a track record of failure and broken promises. From the economy to the NHS, and policing to schools, Theresa May’s Tories have failed again and again to deliver on the pledges they made.

“They made promises, they quickly broke them; they would do so again. The Tories can’t be trusted. Britain cannot afford five more years of them and their broken promises.”

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And Labour’s Shadow Mental Health Minister Barbara Keeley added: “You can’t trust the Tories’ promises on social care. In their last manifesto they promised a cap on care costs. But they broke their promise, letting older and vulnerable people down.

“It’s the Tories who have pushed social care into crisis; their cuts to councils have meant £4.6bn axed from social care budgets between 2010-2015, leaving 1.2 million people struggling to get by without care.

“And NHS bosses have recently said that the money the Tories promised them won’t help alleviate the problems, with bosses warning the system won’t see anything like the level of resource required.”

On immigration, the manifesto will double the charge levied on firms employing migrants, and increase the amount paid by migrant workers and international students to fund their use of the NHS.

The immigration skills charge levied on some firms employing migrant workers will double to £2,000 a year per employee by 2022 so “we can invest more in workers in the UK”.

The current charge is set at £1,000 per employee per year and is levied on employers that employ migrants in skilled areas.

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There will also be an increase in the immigration health surcharge, to £600 for migrant workers and £450 for international students, to cover their use of the NHS.

Attacking the proposals, the former LibDem Cabinet Minister Alistair Carmichael said: “Theresa May is turning people into second class citizens.

“This is just another example of Theresa May pursuing Nigel Farage’s cold, mean-spirited, extreme Brexit. She risks crashing our economy to cuddle up to UKIP.

“You don’t have to accept May and Farage’s extreme version of Brexit that will wreck the future for you, your family, your schools and hospitals as well as our country’s economy.

“Without proper funding to retrain the British workforce this will simply lead to a skills shortage. This will be a massive tax on UK business that is already reeling from Theresa May’s extreme Brexit. The Conservatives have lost the right to call themselves the party of business.”

:: Sky is hosting the first live studio audience Q&A of the election with Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn – find out how you can be involved.

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