Plans are foundation for building a fairer society - Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham

For too long, people in later life have had to fund the majority of their care using hard-earned savings and, all too often, by selling their homes.

The coalition government commissioned a report by respected economist Andrew Dilnot to look at how we might fund the care that many of us will one day need.

My Liberal Democrat colleague Paul Burstow MP, a former Care Minister, has been campaigning for Dilnot’s proposals to be implemented and last week the government published plans to enact some of its most important recommendations.

The changes will mean that from 2017 individuals will no longer have to pay more than £75,000 for their social care and if a person has assets of less that £123,000 they will not have to cover the cost at all.

The coalition government’s plans should therefore greatly reduce the number of people who are obliged to sell their homes to pay for social care. The cost of the new proposals will be met by in part by freezing the inheritance tax allowance which before the election the Conservatives had wanted to see lifted. I’m glad that the care and peace of mind for the many has been put before tax breaks for the wealthiest and believe that this offer is an important foundation for building a fairer society.

Back in Wiltshire at the weekend, I enjoyed meeting Wiltshire Canoe Club volunteers at their refurbished facilities in Melksham’s Adventure Centre. Canoeing and kayaking was given a huge boost by the Olympic gold won by Bradford on Avon man Ed Mckeever. We should now make the most of that Olympic legacy in the next generation of sports men and women. Last month in Parliament, I raised concerns over restrictions to canoeing clubs’ access to rivers.

I have also been out and about speaking to local residents with local councillors Jon Hubbard and Pat Aves.

On Saturday we were in Melksham calling at people’s homes and listening to them on the doorstep. I find it helpful to hear the views of constituents in this way who might not otherwise get in touch with me. My reward was an evening off to see Robinson Crusoe in pantomime at Holt village hall.

After a well-attended surgery in my Chippenham office on Saturday my next surgeries will be held on Friday from 12.30pm to 2pm at Bradford on Avon library, and Saturday, March 2 at Melksham Town Hall (9am-10.30am).

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