A compulsory ‘death tax’ to pay for elderly care is being considered by ministers, it was claimed yesterday.
Whitehall sources said the Cabinet Office is looking at imposing a levy on people’s estates to be taken after their death.
Although Treasury minister Jane Ellison ruled out the proposal during a Commons debate, Downing Street declined to deny it was being considered.
Treasury minister Jane Ellison ruled out the proposal during a Commons debate - and Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to use next week’s Budget to plough hundreds of millions into social care
The revelation led to the Tories being accused of ‘sheer hypocrisy’ last night as critics pointed out that they had savaged the proposal when Labour put it forward in 2010.
Ministers are desperate to fill a growing black hole in the social care budget, with town halls arguing that the crisis will soon be so bad they will be unable to provide decent care for thousands of pensioners.
Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to use next week’s Budget to plough hundreds of millions into social care.
But the Cabinet Office is also considering longer-term reform of social care funding, reporting in the autumn.
In 2010, Labour’s then health secretary, Andy Burnham, wanted to bring in a compulsory 10 per cent levy to pay for social care
According to reports, one option being considered is a compulsory levy to be taken out of people’s estates when they die, whether or not they had needed social care.
At present, people pay the full cost of their social care until their assets – including property – are reduced to £23,000.
A compulsory levy would in effect be an insurance scheme where people do not pay for the care they receive, but pay a set amount so there is enough in the budget to pay everyone’s care costs.
Millions of families could be hit by fees of £1,000 when a relative dies – and some could have to pay £20,000.
Probate fees are to rocket in May under a new system that could see the charges for some increase by up to 9,000 per cent.
George Hodgson, chief executive at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, branded the changes a ‘tax on bereaved families’.
Probate is the legal authority to distribute someone’s assets according