'A death tax on Hartlepool' - Labour hit back after Hartlepool MP backs social care changes
Hartlepool's MP has defended supporting social care changes which Labour councillors claim will disproportionately harm the town’s residents.
Under the reforms, backed by a House of Commons vote earlier this week, people will no longer pay more than £86,000 towards their social care during their lifetime.
Yet anything an individual’s local authority contributes is not counted as part of this personal threshold.
Labour councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council have labelled the changes a “death tax” – arguing they will “hammer” less well off areas while those with more money will be “barely touched”.
Hartlepool’s MP Jill Mortimer said she had “grave concerns” after initially hearing media reports on the changes.
But she said she was satisfied the proposals are a “great improvement” after talks with senior Government ministers.
Yet Councillor Amy Prince, a member of Hartlepool Borough Council’s adult and community based services committee, said: “Social care is in crisis and you are not going to fix the problem by hammering the less well off in towns like ours.
“How can it be right that millionaires in more affluent areas of the country are barely touched financially, whereas in Hartlepool people will likely be forced to sell their homes or have nothing to leave behind for their family?
“It’s a death tax on Hartlepool.”
Labour argue someone with total assets, including the value of their home, of little more than £100,000 would be left with less than £20,000 after social care costs were taken from them while someone with assets of £500k would still have £414,000.
Councillor Jonathan Brash, deputy leader of Hartlepool’s Labour Group, said: “This will do enormous harm to people in our town.”
Mrs Mortimer described Labour claims as “overblown and misleading”.
She said on Tuesday: “After reading reports in the media I had grave concerns regarding yesterday’s vote on the Health and Care Bill.
“Having said this, after meeting with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, yesterday afternoon, and fully discussing the Bill one to one, I am satisfied that the proposals put forward by the Government are a great improvement on the current situation.
"The opposition’s claims are overblown and misleading, as is usually the case.”
On Monday night, MPs backed the amendment to the Health and Care Bill by 272 votes to 246.