Former Care Minister Norman Lamb said the decision to halt the introduction of a £72,000 limit on an individual’s liability “is not a delay, it’s an abandonment” dictated by a Tory priority of tax cuts for the better off.
The cap was one of the key measures included in the previous power-sharing administration’s Care Act to protect people from staggering bills and avoid the need to sell the family home.
But the Local Government Association (LGA) requested it be postponed for two years, warning that the funding gap in adult social care was growing by a minimum of £700 million a year.
Officials said the Government was still fully committed to introducing the cap within this Parliament and were acting to make sure it was workable from day one.
But Mr Lamb said: “Be in no doubt: this is not a delay; it’s an abandonment.
“There is absolutely no reason to believe that the funding situation in health and care will be any better in 2020 than it is now.
“The pressures will keep growing and this was the opportunity to reform a completely broken system.”
He expressed sympathy with local authorities “stuck between a rock and a hard place” as they struggled to deal with deep cuts in their funding.
The solution however was not to halt the move but to increase the resources going into social care rather than cutting inheritance tax for “very wealthy people”.
“They could have given money to social care. They chose a different priority,” he said.
“I can’t envisage any circumstances in which a Tory government in 2020 will see it as a priority to fund this reform.
“It’s gone, it’s abandoned and everyone has to recognise that as soon as you delay, it will go.
“We see so many reforms of the law which government say ‘we are delaying this for a little bit’ and then you never hear of it again.”