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Theresa May announces social care funding reforms to help elderly pass on inheritance to loved ones

Theresa May is launching the Conservative manifesto with plans to ensure the elderly aren't forced to spend their life savings paying for social care

Theresa May is to ensure elderly people are longer forced to hand over their life savings to pay for social care - allowing them to leave far more to their families.

Radical changes to the way social care is funded will be included in the Conservative general election manifesto, launched by Tory leader Theresa May on Thursday.

Under the plans, elderly people will no longer have to contribute towards the cost of residential care or care at home once their assets, including the value of their home, fall below £100,000.

At the moment, they are expected to keep on paying until they have just £23,250 in housing wealth or savings, dashing hopes of leaving a substantial inheritance to their loved ones.

A Conservative government would also make sure that no one, no matter what their condition, has to sell their home within their lifetime to contribute towards care costs.

Prime Minister Theresa May poses for a selfie at the Balmoral Show near Lisburn in Northern Ireland where she toured the exhibition stands and met visitors as part of her campaign trail.

Instead, they will be allowed to defer payments, so that the property is not sold until after they die.

And if they share a home with a partner who outlives them, the home will also be safe until the partner also passes away.

But there will be further changes which save money for the taxpayer - with the cash going back into social care.

Winter fuel payments of up to £300 will be means-tested, instead of going to everyone born on or before 5 May 1953 as they do now.

The payments were meant to end the scandal of elderly people freezing to death in their own homes, but the policy of giving the cash even to the very wealthy has been widely criticised.

And the value of a person's home will also be included when people receiving domiciliary care - care in their own home - are means-tested to see if they should contribute towards the cost. It is already included in the means test for residential care.

Mrs May will say that she is committed to getting to grips with the great challenges of our time, starting with social care.

There will be a third more people aged 85-plus in 2024 than there were in 2014, and the growth of long term conditions such as dementia is putting increasing pressure on the social care system.

The manifesto, called “Forward, Together”, is also expected to include a pledge that schools will not lose money as a result of changes to the way they are funded.

A planned new schools funding formula, designed to provide extra cash in areas where funding has traditionally been low, threatened to take £20 million away from Birmingham schools.

Conservative party leader Theresa May with eight year old Akaal Singh as she meets pupils at Nishkam Primary School in Birmingham, during a general election campaign visit to the West Midlands.

But the proposed changes will be modified to ensure that areas such as Birmingham no longer lose money, while areas such as Solihull, due to benefit from the plans, still enjoy a funding increase.

In a foreword to the manifesto, Mrs May will say: “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."

Repeating her call for a "strong and stable" government, the Conservative leader will say: "People are rightly sceptical of politicians who claim to have easy answers to deeply complex problems. It is the responsibility of leaders to be straight with people about the challenges ahead and the hard work required to overcome them.

“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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