Sunday 22 October 2017

The Tories and Labour are battling it out via Google ads over the 'dementia tax'

And the Conservatives appear to have legitimised the term in the process.

By Kameron Virk

Elections are fought online as much as they are in the streets, and on Monday Google became a key battleground.

Both the Conservatives and Labour have paid for adverts on the search engine following the discussion around what opposition parties branded a “dementia tax”.

Anyone hoping to find out about the Conservative policy, which Theresa May announced changes to on Monday, will see a Tory ad reading “The so-called ‘dementia tax’ – get the real facts”, followed by a Labour ad that says “The Dementia Tax – Get The Real Facts”.

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Google searches for “dementia tax” spiked on Monday, with many people showing a greater interest in May’s social care policy following the backlash against her announced changes.

Those hoping to find out are linked to seven “facts” through the Conservative ad, which appears first, while Labour’s sends browsers to a seven-point Q&A.

The ads are likely to have cost hundreds of pounds, but the exact price will depend on how many people click on them – the more that click, the more the parties will have to pay.

The Lib Dems also set up dementiatax.org.uk – a petition urging the Prime Minister to scrap the manifesto pledge.

What actually is this “tax”?

The Tories plan to overhaul the funding of social care, meaning that elderly people will have to pay for care in their own home if they have total assets of £100,000 or more.

Anyone who needs long-term care in a nursing home will have to pay for it themselves out of their own assets, usually a home, with the final £100,000 being protected for family to inherit.

Labour say this will mean more people will have to pay for care in their own homes.

“Dementia tax” was coined by another party and looks like it’s going to stick, with the Conservative ad somewhat legitimising the unwanted term.

May announced on Monday that a cap on social care costs will be included as an option in a consultation on reforms to be launched after the General Election.

Ministers were adamant there would be no going back on the plan, although they said there would be a green paper on health and social care released over the summer if the Tories were returned to power on June 8.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said he was mobilising a national campaign and seeking the support of medical organisations and charities, including former prime minister David Cameron, who is president of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“Caring for our elderly must be above party politics and that is why I want to urge anyone who opposes the Conservatives’ plans to come together to stop it,” he said.

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