Ministers will eventually U-turn over social care costs, Jeremy Hunt predicts – UK

Good morning. Last night Boris Johnson won the vote on how the cap on social care will be implemented. But despite currently having a working majority of 77, his majority was cut to 26. There were 19 Tories who voted against the government. Just as significantly, for the third time in less than three weeks, dozens of Conservatives effectively went on strike, refusing to vote with the government. There were 68 Tories who did not vote in the division last night; last week 74 Tories did not vote in the divison on Labour’s plan to reform the code of conduct for MPs, and earlier in the month 97 of them did not vote in the division on the motion to shelve the Owen Paterson report.

According to my colleague Jessica Elgot, only 13 Tories were paired with Labour last night, meaning most of the no-shows were probably deliberate abstentions, rather than authorised absences.

The row over the cap on social care costs is unlikely to go away. The health and social care bill has to go to the House of Lords, and peers are very likely to seek to amend this aspect of the bill. This morning Lady Finlay of Llandaff, a crossbench peer, told the Today programme:

I think when this comes to the House of Lords, we will need to scrutinise this very, very carefully … It may be that we will say to the Commons, ‘can you think again?’, it may be that we come up with constructive amendments to improve what is on the table at the moment because, clearly, there’s a lot of disquiet.

And, on the same programme, Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative chair of the Commons health committee, said that he thought eventually the government would have to back down on the mechanism used to calculate the cap on social care costs (which has been criticised because it gives poorer people less protection than was expected). Hunt said it was “unlikely” that the government would order a U-turn soon. But eventually there would be a rethink, he claimed. He told the programme:

Certainly, in time, people will successfully make the case for the way the cap is calculated to be more generous ….

We will be helping less people protect the assets in their houses than people like me were hoping for, than in fact the legislation I took through parliament in 2014 [provided for].

I think it makes it a harder package to sell to the whole country, which is why I hope very much this is something that government will look at again before the next election.

Here is the agenda for the day.

Morning: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.

10.30am: Johnson and Keir Starmer are among the attendees at a requiem mass for Sir David Amess at Westminster Cathedral.

11.30am: Sajid Javid, the health secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

After 1.30pm: MPs resume their debate on the health and care bill.

2.20pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, makes a statement on Covid in the Scottish parliament.

2.30pm: Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, gives evidence to the Commons culture committee, first on the work of her department generally and then, from 4pm, on the online safety bill.

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