Voters: Theresa May's reputation 'damaged' by Conservative social care policy

Theresa May. Picture: PA.
Theresa May. Picture: PA.

Confusion over Tory social care policy has damaged Theresa May, according to voters in the North East.

A new survey has found 49.7% of respondents in the region believe the announcement of the Conservative plan to make people use all but £100,000 of their assets to pay for social care followed by the clarification that the total amount paid would be capped has damaged Theresa May's ability to lead a "strong and stable" government.

This compares to 26.1% of voters who said the quick change in policy hasn't caused damage and 24.2% who said they don't know.

Those who said they are planning to vote Conservative were the most likely to say there was no damage, 64.9% of those surveyed in the region, while 68.3% of those planning to vote Labour said Theresa May has suffered a blow.

The original policy does not appear to have been popular, 59.8% of people who responded to the survey said they did not support the original uncapped plan, that would have seen anyone who required social care, either in their own home or in residential care, have to use any assets over £100,000 to pay.

The original policy was particularly unpopular with those planning to vote Labour, 75.1% said they didn't support it, Lib Dem voters, 62.5%, UKIP voters, 58.4%, and Green voters, 60.9%, but even those who planned to vote Conservative were only narrowly for, with 34.1% saying they didn't support it, against 41.8% who said they did.

Adding a cap on the total people will pay, although one that the Tories are yet to define, doesn't appear to have fully turned around doubts, with 30% of respondents in the region now supporting a capped policy against 37.6% who are still against. However, a third of voters (32.4%) don't know if they support the policy, possibly a result of the unanswered questions about how the policy will work.

Of those planning to vote Conservative, 68.7% are now supporting the policy, although Labour voters are still against, 50.2%, as are Lib Dem voters, 50%, while UKIP voters are undecided, 41.7% said they didn't know if they supported the policy.

The survey suggests the policy and subsequent u-turn may have had some impact on how people will vote, with 6.6% of respondents saying they now won't be voting Conservative and 7.7% saying they were now less likely to vote Conservative, although 4.3% of voters said they policy announcement and subsequent clarification has turned them into a Conservative voter. While 65.1% of voters are sticking with their view, whether they planned to vote Conservative or not, 16.3% are still undecided about whether the policy will make them reconsider.

People in the North East appear to narrowly support charges for those who use A&E unnecessarily, with 48.9% saying they would back such a policy, with Conservative voters, 77.5%, particularly keen, although Labour voters are more likely to be against the scheme, 38.7% saying yes against 45.6% who said no.

Respondents in the region are keener to see people charged for missing GP appointments, 55% would back a charge, including 73.7% of Conservative voters and 48.3% of Labour voters.

The study, run in partnership with Google Surveys, was completed online by nearly 8,300 people across Britain.