INTERVIEW: Lib Dem leader Tim Farron blasts Theresa May over social care ‘Dementia Tax’ debacle

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has fiercely criticised the Prime Minister’s social care policy whilst speaking to carers and NHS workers at Barlow Medical Centre in Didsbury this morning.

His visit comes as the Conservative party continue to defend controversial manifesto proposals to make people receiving social care liable to pay the full costs if they are worth over £100,000.

The Liberal Democrats have dubbed such a policy the “Dementia Tax”, saying that it would force the sale of family homes to fund care for the sick and elderly.

The Prime Minister responded to such allegations this afternoon with an announcement of an absolute limit that an individual could be expected to pay.

Critics are accusing the Tories of an unprecedented manifesto U-turn, with veteran BBC election pundit Sir David Butler describing it as the largest of its kind he has ever seen. Many are still pointing out the potential harmful effect that this Conservative policy could have on elderly voters.

Speaking to MM, Farron described the Tory manifesto proposal as ‘heartless’ and ‘immoral’.

“The consequences are that nine out of ten homes would be vulnerable under the new Dementia Tax. In every single constituency in the country, a majority of homes will be threatened by it,” he told us.

“This is what happens when you have a government so confident of winning that it thinks it can do anything it likes. We need to remember through history – whether it’s Margaret Thatcher with the Poll Tax, or Tony Blair with the Iraq War, governments that have huge majorities take huge risks.

“Maybe Theresa May is set for a big majority, but over the next two and a bit weeks we all have the chance to stop the Dementia Tax – it is a key issue in this election that we can force to change.”

Mr Farron confirmed to MM that he was committed to seeking cross-party consensus on this issue, describing a complete defeat of this policy as a pressing commitment.

“It absolutely hits at the very heart of what it is to live in a decent country,” he explained.

“For you to tell a couple, one of whom has dementia, that their house needs to be cashed in to cover the costs of the sufferer’s misfortune… that is just immoral and wrong, and will terrify millions of people all over this country.”

Former MP for Manchester Withington, and now the City Council’s single opposition member, John Leech, was also keen to weigh in on the “Dementia Tax” issue.

Mr Leech, who is attempting re-election to the constituency after losing it to Labour’s Jeff Smith in 2015, stood in complete support of his party leader, a man who he has known closely for many years.

“The Conservatives are taking everyone’s vote for granted,” he told MM.

“They think they’re going to get a massive majority so can get away with any unpalatable policy, like the Dementia Tax, and still count on people to vote for them.

“We’ve got to continue getting our message out to people so that we can actually stop this, and force Theresa May to completely rethink this hugely unfair policy.

“We’ve put forward a different proposal – we would put a penny on income tax for health and social care. This is a much fairer way of raising the necessary money to support these costs for the next Parliament.”

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