Social care cap vote: MPs back reforms in England but Tory rebellion sees Boris Johnson’s majority slashed

The Prime Minister saw his Commons majority of around 80 MPs cut to just 26

Boris Johnson narrowly succeeded in getting MPs to back his social care reforms in England but saw his Commons majority slashed as a number of Tories rebelled against the plans.

MPs backed the amendment 272 votes to 246 - majority 26 - but that was a major cut in the Prime Minister’s working majority of around 80 MPs.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Ministers were unable to say whether the change to the £86,000 cap on care costs would fulfil an election pledge to guarantee no-one would have to sell their home to pay for care.
  • Backbench Tory critics joined experts and Labour MPs in warning the move to count only individual payments towards the cap, and not local authority contributions, would cost poorer recipients more in assets than the wealthy.
  • Nineteen Conservatives including former Cabinet minister Esther McVey and ex-chief whip Mark Harper rebelled to oppose the plans – while 68 Tories did not vote for them, either because they abstained or could not vote.
  • Mr Johnson had defended the plans as “incredibly generous” and “much better than the existing system” during a speech at the annual CBI conference earlier in the day.
  • In September, the Government announced that a £86,000 cap on lifetime care costs will be put into place from October 2023. However, a policy paper last week showed that only personal contributions will count towards that cap for people who receive financial support from a local authority for some of their care.

What’s been said

Former chief whip Mark Harper said he would be among those opposing the amendment.

He warned it “potentially disadvantages the less well-off and those of working age with life-long conditions”.

Former justice secretary Robert Buckland urged ministers to “look again” at the issue, and Bury South MP Mr Wakeford said he was uncomfortable with the change “to move the goalposts”.

“Especially when one of the main messages for introducing this levy was ‘You won’t need to sell your house for care’, to get to a point where unfortunately you might need to and (it’s) arguably our least well-off in society, our least well-off voters – again, it’s not something I’m particularly comfortable with,” he told Times Radio.


Labour’s analysis suggested the changes mean the average homeowner in two-thirds of northern areas will have to pay more towards their care, while a third in the Midlands will be worse off.

The Conservative Party manifesto for the 2019 general election said social care reforms must “guarantee that no-one needing care has to sell their home to pay for it”.

But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman was unable to say whether people may still have to sell their homes to pay for care, arguing: “I can’t predict individual situations.”

Under the plans, people with assets of less than £20,000 will not have to contribute anything to their care – up from the current level of £14,250 – while those with assets worth up to £100,000 will be eligible to receive some local authority support, up from £23,250.

MPs have another opportunity to debate the amended Health and Care Bill on Tuesday before it is expected to receive extended scrutiny in the House of Lords.

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