Philip Hammond claims North Norfolk has been overlooked during North Walsham visit - Norman Lamb fights back by challenging Theresa May to a meeting

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, right, with North Norfolk Conservative candidate James W

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, right, with North Norfolk Conservative candidate James Wild during the chancellor's visit to North Walsham. Picture: ADAM LAZZARI - Credit: Archant

The North Norfolk election battle heated up at the weekend with Chancellor of the Exchequer claiming the constituency was being passed by under Norman Lamb and Mr Lamb challenging the Prime Minister to a meeting over the 'dementia tax.'

Norman Lamb. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Norman Lamb. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Archant

Chancellor Philip Hammond was in North Walsham on Saturday to support Conservative candidate James Wild's campaign.

He spoke with residents and traders about the need for regeneration in the town.

Mr Hammond said: 'Norman Lamb has been here for many years and we can see all around us how this is a town that has been passed by.

'It needs more direct support from government. The area needs an MP connected to the government who can have more influence.'

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He added: 'This election is about who is going to lead our country and a vote for Norman Lamb is a vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

'If you want Theresa May as prime minister, vote for her candidate here.'

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Meanwhile, almost 500 North Norfolk residents have co-signed an open letter to the Prime Minister challenging her to meet Mr Lamb to answer 12 questions on the 'dementia tax', ahead of her expected visit to the constituency before the general election.​

In the letter, Liberal Democrat Mr Lamb accuses Mrs May of failing to address concerns about proposals in the Conservative Party manifesto that will see ordinary people paying tens of thousands of pounds more for social care – despite the Prime Minister's earlier pledge to support families who are 'just about managing'.

It states Mrs May has 'repeatedly dodged difficult questions on the dementia tax', including her refusal to confirm the level at which a cap on care costs would be set.

Mrs May has also been challenged over how long surviving relatives will be able to stay in a family home and whether local councils will suffer a further drain on stretched resources by having to cover additional costs.

Mr Lamb said: 'The Prime Minister has tried to escape scrutiny by refusing to answer difficult questions about what the so-called dementia tax would mean for people, their finances and their families. The lack of accountability is striking and I hope she will agree to meet me during her visit to North Norfolk.'

Amber Rudd rumours

Mr Hammond said he was not concerned by claims in the press that he will be replaced by Home Secretary Amber Rudd if the Conservatives win the general election.

Theresa May refused to rule out sacking Mr Hammond last month, amid reports of rows between him and her advisers.

Mr Hammond said: 'I'm focused on June 8. To start speculating on who does what job after that would be pointless.

'We have to win the trust of the British people and win this election and after that Theresa May will put her team together and negotiate Brexit on behalf of the British people.'

The chancellor also claimed that it will not be more difficult for businesses in rural communities, like Norfolk, which depend on foreign workers to hire them.

He said: 'As we move forward to achieving our ambitions of reducing net migration to more sustainable levels, being in the tens of thousands, we will do that in a way that addresses the needs of the economy and manage that process in conjunction with businesses and also make sure people in the UK can take the work opportunities available to them.'

The 12 questions Norman Lamb wants to ask the prime minister:

1. At what level will the cap on care costs be set? Government ministers have failed to deny that the cap could be as high as £200,000 or £300,000.

2. How will it be uprated? Will it be in line with house prices? Inflation? Some other measure?

3. Who does the £100,000 floor apply to in means-testing for social care? Does it just apply to

households, or also to individuals?

4. Will the cap and £100,000 floor apply to care costs only, or will it also include accommodation costs?

5. Will people need to pay an arrangement fee and interest?

6. Will interest fees and fee payments for care costs be included under the cap? If they aren't, vulnerable elderly people could be hit with massive fees and charges, even after they sell their home.

7. Will local councils have to pay the additional costs for this scheme, or will they be fully reimbursed by the Treasury? If councils do have to pay additional costs, that will be another drain on already stretched council budgets and cause even more cuts.

8. Will widows, widowers or dependent children be able to remain in the family home after their relative has died? Forcing widows, widowers and dependent children to leave their homes after losing a relative – especially where they are elderly themselves – would be an absolute disgrace. Would they be forced to sell the home to pay for care costs?

9. What interest rate will be charged on a deferred payment once the beneficiary has died? The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead charge 8pc if not settled within 90 days of death.

10. Will measures be put in place to prevent people avoiding the Dementia Tax, for example by releasing equity or gifting a house to children or grandchildren more than seven years before their death?

11. Why have the Conservatives decided to abandon the cap of £72,000, which they had previously committed to implementing?

12. How many pensioners will lose out on the winter fuel allowance as a result of plans to meantest this payment, as well as being faced with a much higher care bill?

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