Rebel Northampton MP labels key change in government Social Care bill 'unfair and unnecessary'

"Constituents who saved hard, bought their own council houses in the 1980s and 1990s could be punished for doing the right thing," says Andrew Lewer

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 3:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 4:01 pm
Northampton MP Andrew Lewer (right) defied the government to vote against Boris Johnson's social Care plans

Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer labelled a key change to government social care reforms in England 'unfair and unnecessary' after joining a Tory Commons rebellion.

Mr Lewer joined 18 other Conservative MPs voting against an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill affecting the cap on how much people would need to contribute to care in their old age.

He said the move has been rushed through by ministers who failed to study regional impacts in places like the East Midlands.

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Mr Lewer added: "If they had done so, then they would have quickly found out that my Northampton South constituents who saved hard, bought their own council houses in the 1980s and 1990s would now be potentially punished for doing the right thing.

"This amendment disproportionality affects less-wealthy members of my constituency who are homeowners.

"It is a one size fits all approach which is unfair, unnecessary and as such, I could not support it.

"I have been consistent and vocal in my approach for a proper root and branch reform of Adult Social Care.

"I want a system that is fair and proportionate, financially sustainable and — crucially — able to meet the challenges in the decades to come."

Parliament voted 272 to 246 on Monday (November 22) to back a proposal to change the Health and Care Bill so that only an individual's personal contribution to care costs count towards an £86,000 cap and any money from local authorities contributes does not.

Another 70 Tories had no vote recorded — including Daventry's Chris Heaton-Harris — although this does not necessarily mean that they abstained.

Northampton North MP Michael Ellis and South Northants' Dame Andrea Leadsom both voted in favour.

Boris Johnson promised to 'fix the crisis in social care' when he became Prime Minister and in September announced a cap on lifetime care costs for adults in England from October 2023.

But the announcement of an amendment led to critics claiming it would hit poorer people and those who live in areas where homes are not worth as much.

Wealthy people who do not qualify for support will hit the cap more quickly than those who have part of their care funded by the council and could have their savings swallowed up or be forced to sell homes to meet care bills.

The 2019 Tory manifesto said any reforms to the system must 'guarantee that no-one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it.'

Labour's shadow minister for social care Liz Kendall said Conservative MPs broke the promise they were elected on.

She said: "Once again Boris Johnson's failures translate into working people paying the price. Families in this country deserve better."

But the PM defended his plans, saying: "We are finally tackling a problem that has bedeviled this country for decades, been very, very unfair on people who have dementia or Alzheimer's and been forced to face catastrophic, ruinous costs for that care when somebody who has cancer or some other affliction does not."